NAFO offers new opportunities for US fishermen

GLOUCESTER, MA – Fishing in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Regulatory Area is making a slow comeback from the days when US vessels fished the Grand Banks back in the 1960s and 70s.

The Dartmouth, Nova Scotia-based NAFO is one of a dozen intergovernmental ocean regulatory organizations established by a convention of sovereign states that now manages fisheries in international waters.

“It’s a re-emerging fishing ground for the US,” said Moira Kelly, senior fishery program specialist at the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO).

In the mid-1970s, when NAFO was being formed, the US opted out, choosing instead to establish a 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in 1983.

In 1995, the U.S. signed on to NAFO as a “contracting party” to help regulate fisheries, although it had little quota.

NAFO sets quota and manages cod, redfish, American plaice, yellowtail flounder, witch flounder, white hake, capelin, skates, Greenland halibut, Illex squid, and shrimp through a process much like the US fishery management council structure.

A fixed amount of quota for all species is harvested on a first-come, first-served basis under a shared “others” category.  All other quota is allocated by historical landings to member states.

For the US, historic catch of redfish and Illex squid translates to a 69 mt redfish quota and 453 mt of IllexIllex squid, though, is not being harvested due to its lack of abundance.

In 2009, the US signed a 10-year agreement with Canada to harvest 1,000 mt of yellowtail flounder from Canada’s 16,575 mt annual allocation.

Due to economic constraints, it wasn’t until 2011 that the 124’ freezer processor Tremont applied to begin harvesting some of the…

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