September 21, 2007 11:00 ET

WWF-Canada: Fate of Southern Grand Banks Cod on the Line at International Fisheries Meeting (NAFO) Next Week

Canada, Portugal, Spain and Russia must lead fisheries management reform: WWF-Canada

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwire - Sept. 21, 2007) - WWF-Canada today called on Canada, Portugal, Spain and Russia to lead the fisheries management reform process at next weeks meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) by implementing measures that would begin to allow for cod recovery and protect coldwater corals.

"For years NAFO has been making slow progress in reforming how the fisheries outside Canada's 200 mile limit are managed," said Dr. Robert Rangeley, Vice President Atlantic, WWF-Canada. "Countries such as Canada, Portugal, Spain and Russia, which have an important economic interest in cod recovery and coral protection, must ensure that measures are passed next week that will result in real conservation gains on the water. If these conservation measures are not adopted, NAFO risks all credibility as the responsible fisheries management authority."

It is expected that the upcoming NAFO Annual Meeting, which will be held in Lisbon, Portugal, from September 24-28, will see delegations discuss a proposal to implement a cod recovery plan. This will be the first time such a proposal has been tabled despite cod being under moratoria since the mid-1990s. If excessive bycatch (the unintended harvesting of non-target species) continues, cod will be on the road to extinction with virtually no chance of recovery. NAFO delegates are also expected to discuss proposals for the protection of vulnerable habitats such as corals.

"WWF is pleased that NAFO nations are finally discussing these very important conservation issues," concluded Rangeley. "We expect that the NAFO contracting parties will live up to their commitments and that this meeting will see real progress on both cod recovery and coral protection as part of a larger, global effort to change the way we manage fisheries to a more sustainable model. If successful, we can improve the health of our oceans and ensure the prosperity of our fisheries."

WWF-Canada is calling on NAFO to:

1. Complete the reform process by endorsing a modernized NAFO Convention

2. Adopt an effective recovery plan for southern Grand Banks cod, and

3. Protect coldwater corals and other vulnerable areas

WWF-Canada will be attending the NAFO Annual Meeting in Portugal as observers and will be issuing an analysis at its conclusion on Friday, September 28/07 outlining the success or failure of NAFO to live up to its conservation obligations.

This news release and associated material can be found on wwf.ca

Contact Information

  • For further information or to book interviews with
    Dr. Rangeley contact: WWF-Canada
    Kyle Ferguson, Manager, Communications
    (902) 482-1105 x 41 or Cell (902) 255-1541
    Email: kferguson@wwfcanada.org
    Website: www.wwf.ca