North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization | est 1984

Management of Fisheries

Management of Fisheries

NASCO’s goal is to promote the diversity and abundance of salmon stocks and maintain all stocks above their conservation limits. The key issues are to:

  • maintain an effective prohibition on fishing for salmon beyond areas of fisheries jurisdiction;
  • further improve the ‘fairness’ and balance in management of distant-water fisheries;
  • explore possibilities for longer-term regulatory measures;
  • exchange information and transfer expertise and knowledge between Parties and between NGOs and the authorities; and
  • further develop the knowledge basis for fisheries regulations.

NASCO Regulatory Measures

The NASCO Convention states that one of the functions of the West Greenland Commission and the North East Atlantic Commission is ‘to propose regulatory measures for fishing in the area of fisheries jurisdiction of a member of salmon originating in the rivers of other Parties’. This has meant that regulatory measures agreed by NASCO have greatly reduced the catch of salmon in the distant-water fisheries at West Greenland and around the Faroe Islands. There has been no commercial harvest by the Faroe Islands since the early 1990s and the Greenland fishery is currently an internal-use fishery.

Fishing for Salmon in International Waters by non-NASCO Parties

NASCO has also taken measures to eliminate fishing for salmon in international waters by non-NASCO Parties. There have been no sightings of vessels fishing for salmon in international waters since the early 1990s.

Sustainable Harvest

Today, Atlantic salmon fisheries are managed to promote and protect diversity and abundance of salmon stocks. Fishing on stocks below their conservation limit should not be permitted. If socioeconomic factors override conservation, management actions should limit fishing to ensure stock recovery within a stated timeframe. NASCO and its Parties remain committed to rational management of stocks to support the conservation of the species alongside addressing the many other pressures they face.

Regulatory measures agreed by NASCO have greatly reduced the interception of salmon in the distant-water fisheries at West Greenland and around the Faroe Islands. These fisheries now only account for a small proportion of the total catch.

The Convention requires that conservation and management measures taken by States of Origin be taken into account in establishing regulatory measures. Major reductions in fishing effort and quotas have occurred all around the North Atlantic. Management measures in response to declining abundance have resulted in major reductions in catches.

These declines in exploitation are illustrated below, where the exploitation rates for multi-sea-winter salmon (salmon that have spent multiple winters at sea before they return to their rivers of origin to spawn) and one-sea-winter salmon (salmon that have spent only one winter at sea before they return to their rivers of origin to spawn) are shown over four decades for salmon from North America and continental Europe.

The big fish represent multi-sea- winter salmon. The small fish represent one-sea-winter salmon. The red colour shows the different proportions harvested in each of the four time periods.

Ecosystem Effects of Salmon Fisheries

ICES considers that salmon fisheries probably have ‘no or only minor influence on the marine ecosystem’. There are concerns about the possible bycatch of Atlantic salmon in fisheries for other pelagic fish species (see the ICES bycatch reports listed below).

Tag Return Incentive Scheme

NASCO operates a Tag Return Incentive Scheme. Individually identifiable, external tags (all tags from West Greenland) that are returned to the appropriate authorities in the country of capture are eligible for inclusion in the draw. Each year a Grand Prize of £1,500 is awarded together with three prizes of £1,000, one in each of NASCO’s three Commission areas. These are the rules of the scheme.

Catch and Release Fishing

There is increasing use of catch and release in recreational fisheries and NASCO has developed guidelines detailing best practice (below). Statistics on catch and release can be found on the Statistics page.

Resolutions, Agreements and Guidelines

Progress in implementing these Resolutions, Agreements and Guidelines is assessed through the review of Implementation Plans and Annual Progress Reports.