In the aftermath of the failure of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization, an international treaty organization, to maintain its agreement on Greenland’s salmon fishery, the Atlantic Salmon Federation is trying to control the potential damage to North America’s wild Atlantic salmon runs.
The salmon’s amazing life cycle propels them from natal rivers, thousands of miles to fatten up in distant waters and back to spawn. They cross international jurisdictions, making cooperation among Canada, the United States, the European Union, the Russian Federation, Norway and Denmark in respect to the Faroe Islands and Greenland — all parties to NASCO — absolutely necessary to conserve the species. North America’s salmon migrate to Greenland to feed, and they made up about 79 percent of the harvest there, the rest being from southern European populations.
But there has been a growing storm at NASCO. Parties such as the European Union and Canada, despite significant fisheries in their own jurisdictions, have expected Greenland to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to limiting salmon harvests. Parties also delivered a punch to Denmark by completely dismissing the recommendations by an external review panel of three international experts to correct the imbalance between NASCO’s ability to regulate salmon fisheries at Greenland and the Faroe Islands and its inability to require other parties to do the same in their own jurisdictions.
At a time when some populations of wild Atlantic salmon have declined to historically low levels, the review panel, which had been contracted by NASCO to deliver an impartial assessment, recommended that NASCO update its focus and mandate to include stronger conservation measures in party jurisdictions. The Danish representative strongly objected to NASCO’s dismissal of this recommendation, pointing out, “There is an imbalance in NASCO between the regulatory measures for the distant-water fisheries and the ‘soft law’ measures applying to other areas of NASCO’s work. NASCO should be able to develop binding measures affecting all phases of the salmon’s life cycle.”
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