Negotiations fail to limit Greenland’s harvest to a level that will sustain salmon. Overfishing of Atlantic salmon stocks taking a huge toll on Canada / U.S. returns. The Atlantic Salmon Federation says Greenland would not budge below a quota of 45 tonnes, which was more than other parties to the West Greenland Commission (made up of Greenland, Canada, the United States and the European Union), could accept
St. Andrews, New Brumswick / June 12, 2015
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) is very disappointed over the failure of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO) to limit Greenland’s salmon harvest to sustainable levels, during negotiations to set regulatory measures at meetings that took place June 2 to 5 in Goose Bay, Labrador. Greenland would not budge below a quota of 45 tonnes, which was more than other Parties to the West Greenland Commission (made up of Greenland, Canada, the United States and the European Union), could accept. Denmark on behalf of Greenland unilaterally committed to limit the total annual catch for all components of its fisheries to take no more than 45 tonnes in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Scientists that advise NASCO have been very clear that there should be no harvest of North American salmon at Greenland. “A compromise would have been a subsistence fishery of no more than 20 tonnes, but more than twice this amount is unacceptable,” said Bill Taylor, President of ASF. “This will have a devastating effect on already endangered, threatened and at-risk salmon populations in North America and southern Europe.”
The situation is dire throughout most of eastern Canada and especially so in the state of Maine, where the last of the U.S. Atlantic salmon are clinging to survival. According to the 2015 report of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), Quebec rivers met only 44% of their minimum conservation limits for the large salmon that spend two winters at sea (2SW), a serious decline from 76% in 2013. The salmon populations of Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence rivers attained only 54.5% of their conservation limits, another serious decline from 80% the year before. The Southwest Miramichi reached only 69% and the Northwest Miramichi a dismal 21% of their conservation limits. Salmon populations along the outer Nova Scotia coast and in Bay of Fundy rivers reached an abysmal 2.7 % of their conservation limits, far lower than the 12% of 2013. The Conne River salmon that represent the threatened south coast populations of Newfoundland met only 49% of their conservation limit. In southern Labrador, the Sand Hill, Muddy Bay Brook and Southwest Brook achieved only 56%, 66% and 72% respectively of their conservation limits. In the United States, 2SW salmon populations attained an appalling 2% of their conservation limits.
“Greenland’s intent to harvest 45 tonnes each year from 2015 to 2017 will put our salmon at further risk, detracting from the many expensive programs carried out to restore wild Atlantic salmon runs in North America,” said Mr. Taylor. “The Greenland fishery jeopardizes such programs as the $64-million Penobscot River restoration in Maine to open up salmon habitat and the million dollar liming program to combat the effects of acid rain on the West River Sheet Harbour in Nova Scotia. There are hundreds of other projects on rivers throughout eastern Canada and northeastern United States that will be affected. It is devastating that the hopes and dreams for the salmon of these rivers will continue to be at risk of being scooped up in gillnets off Greenland,” said Mr. Taylor.