NAFO agrees VME protection measuresNAFO has agreed further protection for VMEs at its 43 annual meeting. Photo: NAFO

At its 43rd annual meeting, the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) has made a number of decisions on the sustainable management of NAFO-managed fish stocks, the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems (VME) and its review of its Precautionary Approach Framework.

A number of measures have been adopted to enhance protection for Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs), in particular to safeguard black coral and sea pens. These measures include the addition of seven new closed areas, as well as revisions to the boundaries of existing closures, and all seamounts at fishable depths within the NAFO Regulatory Area are now protected.

In addition to a five-year rollover of the current closures to protect VMEs in the NAFO Regulatory Area, five further areas will be closed for this same duration. In addition, a further four VMEs closed areas were adopted for two years to allow the Scientific Council to conduct additional analysis incorporating the most recent fishery data.

“This demonstrates the commitment to the ecosystem approach to fisheries management and, specifically, to the protection of VMEs, which has been an obligation for RFMOs since 2008, following United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolutions,” a NAFO spokesperson said.

Decisions were made regarding the progress achieved to review NAFO’s Precautionary Approach Framework, and continued additional conservation measures for cod in Div. 3M, including maintaining a port inspection effort and limiting bycatches during the first quarter closure of 2022.

NAFO elected Temur Tairov (Russian Federation) as its new President and Chair of the Commission and Deirdre Warner Kramer (USA) as Vice Chair of the Commission. Karen Dwyer (Canada) was elected Chair of the Scientific Council and Diana González Troncoso (EU) was elected as Vice Chair of the Scientific Council.

NAFO agreed on the closure of the shrimp fishery in Div. 3M for 2022, and will continue to work intersessionally to review the current management approach this stock.

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