On Friday, June 4, the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO) concluded its 38th Annual Meeting (held virtually). NASCO is an intergovernmental organization formed to promote the conservation, restoration, enhancement, and rational management of wild Atlantic salmon stocks in the North Atlantic Ocean. NASCO’s members are Canada, Denmark (in respect of the Faroe Islands and Greenland) (DFG), the European Union, Norway, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Representatives from a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also attended the meeting.
Participants discussed a number of matters critical to Atlantic salmon conservation and management, including a new regulatory measure for the mixed stock fishery that occurs off West Greenland. This fishery, which operates against the scientific advice, takes critically endangered U.S. origin salmon. As such, our highest priority during the meeting was to agree to a regulatory measure that reduced the catch in the fishery to the lowest possible level and ensured effective management and control.
While a new interim regulatory measure was adopted for the fishery off West Greenland, the United States is deeply concerned about many of its key provisions. In order to avoid allowing the fishery to operate outside of any international constraints, we stopped short of blocking consensus on this one-year measure. However, we expressed our extreme displeasure with several provisions including a 27 ton Total Allowable Catch (TAC), the failure to implement the required 10 ton reduction in the 2021 TAC to account for overharvest in 2020, and the lack of an overharvest payback provision applicable to any future overharvests. The European Union, Canada, and the United Kingdom largely shared the U.S. concerns about the new regulatory measure. All indicated that the catch level was too high, especially without a requirement to ensure any overharvest of the TAC would be addressed. DFG, however, was not willing to change its position on the size of total TAC or the inclusion of the overharvest payback provision.
The new measure will maintain the prohibition on factory landings and exports of Atlantic salmon from Greenland, and require DFG to continue to implement previously agreed monitoring, control, and reporting measures. The new regulatory measure will apply to the fishery off West Greenland in 2021 only, and Parties agreed that they would meet before the 2022 NASCO annual meeting to continue discussions on the development of a longer-term measure. The United States looks forward to these discussions and to the adoption of a stronger measure at the 2022 NASCO annual meeting.
Visit our web page to read the Closing Statement from the U.S. Head of Delegation to NASCO, Kim Damon-Randall, Deputy Regional Administrator for the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office.