September 24, 2010 16:01 ET

NAFO Commits to an Effective Rebuilding Plan for Grand Banks Cod

Three More Years of Grand Banks Cod Moratoria-WWF

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwire - Sept. 24, 2010) - The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) followed through on commitments to implement an effective rebuilding strategy for southern Grand Banks cod in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada this week. A working group of scientists and managers was established to develop a rebuilding strategy in line with the precautionary approach and international commitments.

The 2010 assessment data of Atlantic cod on the southern Grand Banks indicated a significant increase in the number of spawning fish; however, this fragile recovery is completely dependent on reducing excessive bycatch. No new measures to reduce bycatch were adopted but the rebuilding plan is a significant step forward.

Canada took the lead at NAFO by developing a plan to create a robust rebuilding strategy for depleted stocks, including essential elements such as rebuilding targets, timelines, and harvest control rules. A precautionary approach compliant with the rebuilding strategy will also be developed for American plaice, another stock currently under moratorium.

"We are pleased with the adoption of a NAFO working group to develop plans - called for in WWF's Measures of Success, and we are optimistic that, when implemented, the plan will yield considerable long-term economic and ecological benefits," said Dr. Bettina Saier, Director Oceans, WWF-Canada. "WWF applauds NAFO's leadership, a positive sign for advancing recovery of domestic cod stocks in Canada's own waters."

In 2006, the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 61/105 on Sustainable Fisheries described seamounts as a vulnerable marine ecosystem (VME) and called upon States and regional fisheries management organizations to take measures to protect these ecosystems. Canada also helped to advance the protection of these VMEs, which resulted in the closure of Orphan Knoll, Fogo Seamounts 1 and 2, Corner Seamounts, Newfoundland Seamounts, and New England Seamounts to bottom fishing activities until 2014. The closure of those seamounts is also in line with the conservation tools recommended by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization International Guidelines for the Management of Deep-Sea Fisheries in the High Seas (FAO Guidelines).

While WWF congratulates NAFO on its progress in meeting international commitments to protect these VMEs, a number of other conservation and management measures required by international commitments have not yet been met. Among other issues not addressed, contracting parties did not agree to undertake standardized impact assessments in all bottom fishing areas.

"Standardized impact assessments as specified by FAO guidelines in the entire NAFO regulatory area are an important tool to evaluate and assess the impacts of fishing on vulnerable habitats and species," said Dr. Robert Rangeley, Vice-President, WWF-Canada, Atlantic Region. "NAFO's Contracting Parties have not met their commitments made under the UN General Assembly resolution 64/72, which does not set a good example for other regional fisheries management organizations."

NAFO also adopted criteria for its first independent performance review based on the UN Fish Stocks Agreement, giving them the opportunity to increase their transparency and strengthen their conservation measures.

WWF Measures of Success:


About WWF-Canada

WWF-Canada is part of WWF, the world's largest conservation organization. At WWF we advocate and promote lasting solutions to the challenge of balancing growing human need and environmental sustainability. In collaboration with business, government, communities and individuals we take a science-based approach to the protection, management and restoration of environmentally sensitive parts of our planet. Our work includes visionary projects focused on climate change, freshwater and the health of habitat and species across Canada and around the world. For more information about WWF-Canada visit wwf.ca.

wwf.ca/newsroom for latest news and media resources.

Contact Information

  • WWF-Canada
    Stacey McCarthy
    Communications Manager
    902.482.1105 x 41 or Cell: 902.229.6066
    Dr. Robert Rangeley
    Vice President, Atlantic Region
    902.482.1105 x 23 or Cell: 902.401.1569