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Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Keith Ashfield, restated Canada's commitment to protecting fishing resources. (Photo: pm.gc.ca/FIS)

Conservation groups say NAFO's new managament measures do not go far enough

Click on the flag for more information about Canada CANADA
Tuesday, September 27, 2011, 02:50 (GMT + 9)

The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) has decided on a set of management and compliance measures for the conservation and rebuilding of key fish stocks. Conservation groups were not impressed, however.

NAFO’s measures cover species including cod, Greenland halibut and shrimp plus steps meant to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems in the Northwest Atlantic.

"Our government understands that international engagement is vital to protecting and preserving Canadian fisheries. At the recent NAFO meeting in Halifax, Canada achieved all of our objectives for the conservation of this important resource," said Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Keith Ashfield.

"We also highlighted our decision to continue strengthening compliance on the high seas," he remarked.

Conversely, Pew Charitable Trusts said the countries failed to concur on strong measures to protect deep-sea marine ecosystems.

"While minimally reducing the threshold for encounters, extending area closures and requiring impact assessments is a step in the right direction, it simply isn't enough to ensure sustainability and protect deep-sea ecosystems," said Andrea Kavanagh, director of deep-sea conservation for the Pew Environment Group.

The plan to safeguard cod stocks was promoted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The green group considers the interim plan a positive step but also was dissatisfied: it stated that a future cod fishery on the Grand Banks may still be at risk given the amount of cod bycatch in other fisheries.

“NAFO has not yet set a science-based bycatch target and this year it compromised on the recommended allowable amount,” WWF said in a statement.

NAFO also progressed on the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs); for example, via an agreement to reassess the impacts of bottom fishing on VMEs. The move came largely thanks to strong science-based conservation proposals by the US, according to WWF.

“Overall, efforts to implement a precautionary and ecosystem approach to fisheries management more widely will be required.

"Seafood market demand for well-managed ecosystems should continue to provide incentives for science- based and precautionary approaches to NAFO decision making," the group concluded.

NAFO members including Canada agreed on the terms of reference for the formation of a working group to review the Report of the NAFO Performance Review Panel and determine how to implement the report's recommendations. The report validates many actions Canada has taken over the last few years to strengthen NAFO and particularly the amendments to the group’s Convention adopted two years ago.

Canada continues to work with and encourage those members who have not yet ratified the amended Convention to do so.

"Under the leadership of our government, NAFO has come a long way but much work remains to be done. We look forward to working with our NAFO partners to implement the recommendations of the Performance Review Panel," said Ashfield.

Joint sea patrols have already increased and members assured they would continue their commitment to strengthen at-sea enforcement cooperation, NAFO wrote. Enforcement partners on the high seas now include the US, Russia, France (for Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon), and the European Union (EU).

Related article:

-
NAFO sets Greenland halibut and cod quotas

By Natalia Real
[email protected]
www.fis.com


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