Parties at the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission at their 41st Annual Meeting adopts fishing opportunities for 2023

Parties at the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission at their 41st Annual Meeting adopts fishing opportunities for 2023

  • ICES advice on blue whiting, herring and Rockall Haddock adopted
  • ICES advice on spurdog adopted byt notes for careful stock management
  • Current VMEs closed to bottom fishing remain closed until 2027
  • 22 species added to the NEAFC discard ban list
  • Canada renewed its General Cooperating non-Contracting Party status for the year 2023. Active Cooperating non-Contracting Party status for 2023 was renewed for the Bahamas and for Panama
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The 41st Annual Meeting of the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) was held in London from 15 to 18 November 2022.

NEAFC is the intergovernmental organisation responsible for fisheries management in international waters in the North-East Atlantic. Its Contracting Parties are Denmark (in respect of the Faroe Islands and Greenland), the European Union, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom.

In opening the meeting the President, Janet Nørregaard, noted the welcome return to a face to face meeting in London after a difficult year, following the pandemic and in light of the suspension of many meetings in the face of the international situation.

At the Annual Meeting, NEAFC adopted conservation and management measures for the year 2023 for a number of fish stocks on the basis of the latest independent scientific advice provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). These stocks include blue whiting, herring, and Rockall haddock. A recovery in the biomass of spurdog also allowed a limited fishery to be restarted on this stock. NEAFC however noted that this fishery would need careful management to ensure the recovery continued. NEAFC noted that while the agreements for the main stocks were not comprehensive given allocations of the Total Allowable Catch to each Contracting Party had not been set out for 2023, important consultations on the pelagic stocks would continue between the coastal states.

While the focus for the stock management measures is related to the economic, social and environmental objectives of these fisheries, NEAFC also has in place stock and habitat conservation measures, including for the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems (VME), such as deep-sea corals and sponges. It has for many years closed bottom fisheries in all areas where VME are known to occur or likely to occur according to scientific advice. This year’s independent scientific advice from ICES included the usual check that there was no evidence to justify a change to closed areas. In addition, NEAFC agreed to renew all the VME closed areas for a further 5 years to the end of 2027. At the same time an existing bottom fishing area in the Barents Sea was adjusted by NEAFC, following changes in the Norwegian exclusive economic zone some years earlier.  

In further conservation focused decisions, NEAFC added 22 species to its discard ban list and at the same time extended the regulation to all Contracting Parties. NEAFC also furthered new work assessing how its enforced and effective measures, such as the VME fisheries restrictions, could be understood as Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures (OECMS), with a view to designation by the end of 2023.

Canada renewed its General Cooperating non-Contracting Party status for the year 2023. Active Cooperating non-Contracting Party status for 2023 was renewed for the Bahamas and for Panama. These States will cooperate with NEAFC and, in some cases, deploy vessels for transhipment operations in the NEAFC Convention Area. Of relevance here is that NEAFC agreed to new regulations to enhance its control of transhipment activities. In this context NEAFC also agreed to reflect on how its regulations could be updated in light of the recently agreed UN Food and Agriculture Organisation guidelines on transhipment. The Meeting also adopted a measure to limit landings/transhipment of Irminger redfish to certain NEAFC Contracting Parties.

Source: Press Release

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North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission adopts 2023 fishing opportunities

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