NASCO Logo    

Salmon School
North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization
Conserving and restoring wild Atlantic salmon



The Atlantic Salmon
International Year of the Salmon
The Value of Salmon
Scientific Advice
NASCO's Agreements
Rivers' Database


Contact Us

IYS 2019






Last Updated


Adobe Acrobat Reader
PDF documents require Acrobat Reader. Download free from

Designed by J7 (MIS) Ltd



What is NASCO?

NASCO is an international organization, established by an inter-governmental Convention in 1984. The objective of NASCO is to conserve, restore, enhance and rationally manage Atlantic salmon through international co-operation taking account of the best available scientific information.

Why is NASCO needed?

The marine migrations of the Atlantic salmon take it from its river of birth to distant-water feeding grounds in the sub-Arctic and into the fisheries zones of other countries where it may be exploited. Rational management of this resource can, therefore, only be achieved through international co-operation. Regulatory and other measures established by NASCO and its Parties have greatly reduced harvests of salmon all around the North Atlantic.

North Atlantic Salmon Catch (tonnes)

Source: ICES

Additionally, there are many other pressures on the resource (e.g. habitat degradation; impacts of aquaculture, introductions and transfers; illegal exploitation) where international co-operation is proving to be valuable.

How is NASCO organised?

NASCO is an inter-governmental organization which has six Parties: Canada, Denmark (in respect of the Faroe Islands & Greenland), the European Union, Norway, the Russian Federation and the United States of America. France (in respect of St.Pierre & Miquelon) attends NASCO's meetings as an observer. Iceland withdrew from NASCO with effect from 31 December 2009 because of financial considerations, but has indicated that it intends to re-accede to the Convention when the economic situation improves. NASCO also has 41 accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Read more...

The Organization consists of the:

What has NASCO achieved?
The establishment of NASCO immediately prohibited fishing for salmon in most parts of the North Atlantic beyond 12 nautical miles from the coast creating a large protected zone or 'sanctuary', free of targeted fisheries. Regulatory measures agreed by NASCO for the distant-water fisheries and measures taken by States of Origin, partly in recognition of their international obligations and partly for domestic management reasons, have resulted in enormous reductions in fishing effort all around the North Atlantic. There are many pressures facing the resource and focusing solely on the fisheries is unlikely to conserve the stocks. NASCO is therefore addressing a wide range of issues.

NASCO and its Parties have adopted and are applying the Precautionary Approach in order to protect the resource and preserve the environments in which it lives. This approach requires that caution be exercised when information is uncertain, unreliable or inadequate. NASCO has developed a range of Precautionary Approach agreements in relation to:

  • management of fisheries;
  • habitat protection and restoration;
  • impacts of aquaculture, introductions and transfers and transgenics;
  • stock rebuilding programmes;
  • use of socio-economic factors in management decisions.

NASCO has also developed a range of guidelines on topics such as catch and release and establishment of gene banks.

What are the main threats to the salmon today?
The life-cycle of the salmon, involving both a freshwater and a marine phase, means that the salmon is exposed to a wide range of threats.  NASCO is acting on a broad front to address these. Despite all the sacrifices made in reducing levels of exploitation, measures to restore habitat and other actions, the abundance of salmon remains low. There is particular concern about the increased mortality of salmon at sea and NASCO has established an International Atlantic Salmon Research Board (IASRB) to improve understanding of the factors responsible for this increased mortality. Read more...

What more do we need to know?
NASCO seeks to base its management actions on the best available scientific information which it obtains from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), through NASCO Working Groups and Committees and through sponsoring scientific symposia and workshops. Much progress has been made by the scientific community in providing a sound scientific basis for management of fisheries but much remains to be learnt about the marine phase of the life-cycle. There are situations where scientific information is uncertain, unreliable or inadequate. In these situations NASCO has agreed to adopt a Precautionary Approach. Read more...