Commission welcomes NAFO results to support sustainable fisheries

Commission welcomes NAFO results to support sustainable fisheries

Commission welcomes NAFO results to support sustainable fisheries

European Commission welcomes the results of the North Atlantic Fisheries Organisation's (NAFO) Annual Meeting, which ended successfully on 21 September. NAFO adopted total allowable catches (TACs) for a number of stocks in line with the scientific advice, and made further progress in protecting Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs). NAFO paved the way for further improving its performance, in particular by taking measures for the best data and science.

On the most important stocks, the following measures were agreed:

  • TAC for cod in division 3M was agreed at 14,113 tonnes, in line with the scientific advice. The substantial increase of this TAC from 9,280t in 2012 reflects the rapid recovery of the stock following an over decade long moratorium (the fishery was reopened in 2010 only);
  • TAC for redfish in division 3LN was agreed at 6,500 tonnes – a small increase compared to last year's TAC of 6000 t in view of the positive indicators for this stock following the opening of this fishery in 2010;
  • TAC for white hake in divisions 3NO was agreed at 1,000 tonnes, in line with the scientific advice. However, a mechanism was agreed that allows to increase the TAC to 5,000t if the stock shows peaks in the Regulatory Area;
  • TAC for thorny skates in divisions 3LNO was reduced to 7,000t (scientific advice proposed 5000t). The stock will be next assessed in 2014;
  • TAC for shrimp in division 3L was agreed at 8600t, in line with the scientific advice.
  • For other 10 stocks, such as American Plaice in Divisions 3M and 3NO, cod in Division 3 NO, witch flounder in Division 3NO, and capelin in Division 3NO, fishing remains suspended in line with scientific advice.

NAFO also decided to continue on a path towards a more risk-based management: it updated the Conservation Plans and Rebuilding Strategies for American Plaice in Division 3 LNO and Cod in Division 3 NO, pursued further the establishment of such a plan for Witch Flounder in Division 3 NO, and initiated such plans for Cod in Division 3 M and for Redfish in Division 3 LN.

With regard to the protection of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems, NAFO introduced a new threshold of 7 kg which triggers move-on rules for sea pens. NAFO also lowered the thresholds for sponges to 300kg (currently 600kg in the fished areas and 400kg in new areas). Regrettably, the joint proposals from the EU and Canada for area closures to protect significant concentrations of sea pens and gorgonians were not adopted. The Scientific Council considers area closures the most effective measures to protect VMEs. However, NAFO will consider these closures again next year. NAFO also agreed to expand the mandate of the VME Working Group to a wider ecosystem approach.

NAFO adopted a comprehensive action plan to follow up on the recommendations of the Performance Review Panel. The first measures to implement this plan were adopted under the leadership of the European Union, in particular to make sure that best data and science are available to NAFO.

The 34th Annual Meeting of NAFO was held from 17 to 21 September in St Petersburg, Russia.