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European Commission welcomes outcome of NAFO annual meeting

(30/09/2013) The European Commission has expressed its satisfaction at the outcome of the North Atlantic Fisheries Organisation's (NAFO) annual meeting which took place from 23 to 27 September in Halifax, Canada.

The meeting saw decisions taken on the total allowable catches (TACs) for a number of stocks based on scientific advice whilst further measures were adopted to protect Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs).

NAFO paved the way for further improving its performance, in particular by reinforcing its commitment to working on the basis of best available data and science. In addition, with the creation of two new Working Groups important fora have been established that will allow NAFO to intensify its work regarding Ecosystem approach and risk-based management.

TACs were agreed for a significant number of different stocks across NAFO's regulatory area in line with the best available scientific advice. However, the EU regrets the decision taken not to impose a moratorium for shrimp in one of the Subarea divisions as it risks a further decline in the stock. A decision was taken to reduce the TAC by 50% but the EU's proposal for a moratorium was outvoted by a majority of contracting parties.

On the issue of protection of VMEs, the extension of existing area closures and a new area closure were agreed on. These steps considerably improve the protection of significant concentrations of large gorgonians and sea-pens.

In line with EU-legislation banning the practice of shark-finning where sharks are caught solely for their fins and thrown back into the water, the EU tabled a proposal, co-sponsored by the US, to update rules in place. Although the number of sharks caught in the NAFO area is minimal, and despite the support of many within NAFO, the EU is disappointed that due to the opposition of some parties, the fins-naturally-attached policy this year was not adopted.

NAFO continued to work on improving data access, notably by adopting an EU proposal that will provide scientists better access to catch data. This will not only help to improve stock assessments but also help NAFO to better address the reduction of by-catches and to eliminate discards.

Meanwhile, a new Executive Secretary was chosen with Fred Kingston, Canadian national and long standing member of the EU Delegation in Canada as adviser for fisheries and agricultural matters, replacing Dr. Vladimir Shibanov as of 1 January 2014.

The European Union will host the 36th Annual Meeting in Spain from 22 September to 26 September 2014.

For a map of NAFO's regulatory area and for further information visit:
http://www.nafo.int/fisheries/frames/fishery.html