Fisheries

The EU leads the way in implementing the ecosystem approach in the Nortwest Atlantic

The EU leads the way in implementing the ecosystem approach in the Nortwest Atlantic

The EU leads the way in implementing the ecosystem approach in the Nortwest Atlantic

25/09/2017

At the meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO), which took place in Montreal from 18 to 22 September 2017, the European Union was instrumental in advancing key conservation measures based on the best available scientific advice, aiming to ensure sustainability for the stocks and predictability for the industry's future.

One of the key achievements of this meeting was the agreement on a new and more modern multiannual management rule for Greenland Halibut, and the EU was also leading the way in proposing solutions for management decisions on cod and redfish in the Flemish Cap.

Among other headline issues discussed by the 11 Contracting Parties were the protection of the vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs), with the EU successfully advocating measures to further ensure that NAFO's VMEs protection policy is based on the best available scientific evidence and clear decision-making. Under the EU's lead, and in an effort to increase consistency, the Contracting Parties also agreed to communicate the NAFO VMEs protective measures to other national authorities regulating other industries than fisheries in the protected areas. In addition, NAFO agreed to protect the entire New England Seamount chain, by prohibiting bottom fishing on all peaks shallower than 2000 metres.

After two years of intense discussions, the Contracting Parties agreed to the EU proposals to prepare the ground for ending the wasteful discarding practice and to improve the catch estimation methodologies for better science.

Regarding control and enforcement, the EU continued to promote compliance of the EU fleet with NAFO rules, both at sea and in port, as well as measures increasing the efficiency of NAFO’s control and inspection systems. Finally, it was also agreed to launch a new Performance Review exercise for the organisation.

The NAFO meeting took place for the first time under a revised NAFO Convention, which places a stronger focus on the ecosystem approach and streamlines the decision-making process by strengthening the obligations of Contracting Parties, while instituting a formal dispute settlement mechanism.