Greenland to help save the wild salmon of Europe and North America

Greenland’s commercial fishermen have taken an historic stand to help restore threatened stocks of wild Atlantic salmon.

Greenland’s commercial fishermen have taken an historic stand to help restore threatened stocks of wild Atlantic salmon.

They have agreed to join their Government and salmon conservation organisations on both sides of the Atlantic in protecting the salmon while the fish are migrating through northern waters. The shoals of salmon will now have a much better chance of returning to their home rivers in Britain, Ireland, continental Europe and North America.

Weeks of negotiations ended in a five year agreement which suspends all commercial salmon fishing and allows only an annual subsistence harvest that will be strictly limited.

In return for volunteering to forego their rights to harvest salmon, the fishermen will find alternative work in a number of new development projects to be introduced along the Greenland coast. A number of successful sustainable fishing programmes for lumpfish and snow crab have already been implemented.

This agreement, in which commercial fishermen are leading the way towards the restoration of wild salmon stocks, demonstrates the dramatic change that has taken place in the attitudes of professional netsmen. They have seen the precipitous decline in wild salmon populations and are offering to help restore the species to abundance. Fewer than 200 wild Atlantic salmon remain in the US where they are protected under the Endangered Species Act, while in Canada and Europe scientists warn that many stocks are well-below safe biological levels.

The Greenland Home Rule Government had already announced its enthusiastic endorsement of the salmon agreement. The Greenland negotiating team included Leif Fontaine, Chairman of KNAPK (the commercial fishermen’s organisation in Greenland), Siverth Amondsen and Toennes Berthelsen. The coalition of salmon conservationists included Orri Vigfusson (NASF), Bill Taylor (ASF), Buff Bohlen (former US State Department Official) and Jerry Clark (National Fish and Wildlife Foundation).