Greenlandic fishermen demand new quota to catch and sell wild salmon abroad at June NASCO meeting

Greenlandic fishermen demand new quota to catch and sell wild salmon abroad at June NASCO meeting
S&TA condemns "hypocrisy" of UK interests in exploiting stocks that are conserved in Greenland

Greenlandic fishermen held a demonstration outside the hotel hosting the 28th North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) meeting (4th – 6th June) in Ilulissat, West Greenland.

The fishermen, members of KNAPK (Greenland’s organisation of fishermen and hunters), demanded a new commercial quota to catch and sell salmon abroad in order to take advantage of what they consider to be a return to abundance of fish off the West Greenland coast, and thus the rising global prices for wild salmon which they cannot attain in their own subsistence markets.

Greenlandic fishermen held a demonstration outside the hotel hosting the 28th North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) meeting (4th – 6th June) in Ilulissat, West Greenland.

The fishermen, members of KNAPK (Greenland’s organisation of fishermen and hunters), demanded a new commercial quota to catch and sell salmon abroad in order to take advantage of what they consider to be a return to abundance of fish off the West Greenland coast, and thus the rising global prices for wild salmon which they cannot attain in their own subsistence markets.

NASCO has set a subsistence quota for Greenland salmon in recent years, tightly regulating this fishery which catches mixed stocks of fish mainly from the USA and Canada, but also significant numbers of European salmon, almost all of which are destined to be larger, multi sea winter fish. Eighty per cent of these are likely to be egg bearing females, according to the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES).

ICES advice has remained constant since 2000; as pre fishery abundance of Atlantic salmon has slumped from historic levels of 4 million to presently around 1 million fish, there should be no commercial exploitation of stocks. ICES also states that mixed stock fisheries present particular problems for salmon management, in that they exploit fish from more than one river system, therefore making individual stock management impossible.

To compound the problem, there was also some discussion during the main meeting as to the protocols which might be adopted to reopen the other large high seas mixed stock fishery off the Faroe Islands. The Faroese retain the right to fish for salmon, but have not exercised that right since 2000. Any reopening of the fishery could prove disastrous for European stocks of salmon, particularly runs of grilse.

S&TA CEO, Paul Knight, who chaired the NGOs at NASCO this year, stated, ‘this just shows how home countries – specifically Norway, Scotland and England – must regulate their own coastal mixed stock fisheries far more robustly than at present, with a committed target of complete closure. It sends out completely the wrong signals to Greenland and the Faroese that, while they are being asked to sacrifice their salmon fishing in the interests of conserving and restoring stocks, those same fish that were saved on their feeding grounds are being heavily exploited as they return to their natal rivers. It is unfair to Greenlandic and Faroese fishermen, and hypocritical of home water salmon managers sitting at the NASCO table.”