The Icelandic government has delivered its analysis on the outcome of the NEAFC 2022 Annual Meeting
At the 40th Annual Meeting of the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) held in London on 15-18 November, the members of the council agreed to prohibit landing, transhipment or other services to vessels fishing for golden redfish on the Reykjanes ridge.
Russia has continued fishing there despite the clear scientific advice of the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES). The purpose of the convention is to narrow down these fisheries and pressure all member states to accept the scientific advice of ICES as the basis of fisheries management.
There is no agreement regarding fishing for herring, blue whiting and mackerel divisions. The states agreed to set limits for the aforementioned species. Also, non-member states would not be allowed to fish in NEAFC’s management area. In addition, measures were approved regarding haddock on Rockall Bank and several other fish stocks.
At the meeting, a significant expansion of the NEAFC discard ban was also approved, which now covers more species than before. Rules regarding the transhipment of catches were also tightened, and it was agreed to begin work on a general revision of the rules regarding transhipment.
The North-East Atlantic Fisheries Council is a world leader in the protection of vulnerable benthic ecosystems such as corals and sponges and in fisheries management of deep-sea species. Based on scientific advice from the International Oceanographic Research Council, Iceland’s proposal to extend the regional closures that are in force in this regard was approved.
For years NEAFC has banned fishing on the high seas. As a result of the protection, the stock has flourished so much that ICES no longer considers a fishing ban necessary. Fishing on the basis of the scientific advice was therefore allowed within limits to ensure that the population does not decline again.
At the meeting, there were prominent disputes over fishing in the Barents Sea, which Iceland mostly stayed out of.
In connection with this, a ban on the use of top bags on shrimp trawls was approved to prevent bycatch in shrimp fishing of species such as halibut and cod. The European Union has argued with Norway and Russia about the arrangement of these fisheries, which are not carried out by Icelandic vessels. The dispute is related, among other things, to Russia’s position within the NEAFC. It was the position of the Icelandic delegation that, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it would not be safe to let Iceland’s vote be the reason for Russia to present its policy within the NEAFC.
NEAFC manages non-jurisdictional fisheries in the Northeast Atlantic. Members are Great Britain, Denmark (v. Faroe Islands and Greenland), the European Union, Iceland, Norway and Russia.