Canada’s commitment to sustainable and economically viable fisheries in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean was on display this past week as it hosted the 39th Annual Meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO).
This was the first meeting under NAFO’s amended Convention. Canada fully supports these reforms, which strengthen accountability as well as NAFO’s decision-making model through precautionary and ecosystem-based management approaches.
The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, addressed delegates earlier in the week. He reiterated Canada’s position that the environment and the economy go hand-in-hand—that we can and should balance the protection of marine ecosystems with socio-economic growth and opportunities within the NAFO convention area. The Minister also stressed that all NAFO contracting parties must work together to ensure all parties comply with agreed-upon conservation measures.
Throughout the meeting, NAFO member countries remained committed to science-based decision making on significant fisheries such as Greenland halibut and Witch flounder. This included NAFO contracting parties approving a new management strategy for Greenland halibut, including an increase of more than 600 tones in the Canadian quota for 2018 to a total of
5,979 tones (up from 5,362 tones in 2017).
Canada’s collaboration with its partners in NAFO has led to improvements in conservation measures. For instance, at this meeting, the New England seamounts closure to bottom fishing was further refined. This agreed-upon approach will help conserve biodiversity in the area by protecting deep-water corals and sponges, including octocorals and black corals that are unique to seamount features.
Protecting our marine and coastal areas remains a priority for the Government of Canada. In addressing NAFO delegates, the Minister highlighted Canada’s commitment to working internationally to protect marine ecosystems, and discussed the domestic approach that utilizes both marine protected areas and Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures to reach our target of protecting 5% of marine areas by this year, and 10% by 2020.