Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea. (Photo Credit:Gail Shea)
NAFO strengthens key stock conservation and management
Wednesday, October 02, 2013, 23:10 (GMT + 9)
At this year’s annual meeting in Halifax, the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) adopted a range of measures to strengthen the conservation and management of key fish stocks and to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems (VME) that form habitat for many of those species.
“We are encouraged by the progress made at this year’s annual meeting and by the commitment that we are seeing from other NAFO members to manage fish stocks in a sustainable way,” said the Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.
The results of the 2013 annual meeting included management decisions on key stocks that demonstrate a commitment to the sustainable management of groundfish stocks in the NAFO Regulatory Area, particularly those that have seen signs of growth in recent years.
NAFO members also agreed to further improvements to the conservation and enforcement measures that regulate fishing activity. The continued growth of the cod stock in NAFO Division 3M and redfish stocks in NAFO Divisions 3LN is a clear indication that the Organization’s – and Canada’s – efforts are working.
NAFO continues to take steps to further implement conservation plans and rebuilding strategies for fish stocks important to Canada, including redfish in NAFO Divisions 3LN and witch flounder in NAFO Divisions 3NO. For Greenland halibut, the management strategy was extended for three years. This will provide stability and help ensure the ongoing recovery of the stocks.
NAFO members also outlined a framework for the development of risk-based management strategies for other stocks in the future.
Timely, accurate, and relevant catch data is a vital element of the science-based decision-making process and is necessary for an effective monitoring, compliance and surveillance regime. To further these objectives, Contracting Parties agreed on enhanced reporting requirements for by-catch and to establish a technical working group of fisheries managers and scientists to ensure available sources of information are used to identify measures to strengthen reliability in catch data.
The Organization took further action to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems in the NAFO regulatory area. “NAFO’s efforts to protect coral species and sea pens by supporting the identification of sensitive areas and adjusting existing closures are evidence of the emergence of NAFO as a world leader among regional fisheries management organizations in protecting sensitive habitat,” said Minister Shea.
NAFO also undertook a review of the progress it has made in implementing the recommendations of its 2011 performance review. Its commitment to implementing these recommendations was reinforced by the creation of the Working Group on Risk-based Management Strategies and the Working Group on an Ecosystem Approach, which are scheduled to meet for the first time in 2014 and will be comprised of both scientists and fisheries managers.
NAFO members demonstrated a commitment to lead regional fisheries management organizations in fiscal responsibility by agreeing to focus resources on key priorities related to its mandate while ensuring a zero budget increase for 2014.
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