North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization | est 1984

Fisheries Management

Sustainable Harvest

Over exploitation of salmon stocks was once another major factor in population decline – with the salmon’s life cycle adding a further layer of complexity. Given a migration that takes salmon from their rivers of origin to feeding grounds in the sub-Arctic and into the fisheries zones of other countries, reducing overexploitation was a matter that required international co-operation.

Despite some measures relating to distant-water fisheries (when vessels fish well beyond their national waters) being agreed in the 1970s, salmon catches in or near to rivers of origin continued to decline. This prompted calls for an international convention devoted to Atlantic salmon – a forum for countries to co-operate on salmon conservation, restoration, rational management and enhancement. The subsequent formation of NASCO saw the immediate banning of fishing for salmon in most parts of the North Atlantic beyond 12 nautical miles from the coast – a move that created a large protected zone, free of targeted fisheries.

The big fish represent the proportion of multisea- winter salmon (salmon that have spent multiple winters at sea before they return to their rivers of origin to spawn). The small fish represent the proportion of one-sea-winter salmon (salmon that have spent only one winter at sea before they return to their rivers of origin to spawn). The red colour shows the different proportions harvested in each time period.

Resolutions, Agreements and Guidelines

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 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.

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.