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Management of Salmon Fisheries

NE Drift Net Kola Angler Bag Net, Norway
Courtesy of Ted Potter, CEFAS   Courtesy of Sergey Prusov   Courtesy of Lars Hansen, NINA


NASCO has adopted a Minimum Standard for Catch Statistics. Read more... and a Decision Structure providing a basis for more consistent approaches to the management of exploitation Read more...

NASCO's goal is to promote the diversity and abundance of salmon stocks and maintain all stocks above their conservation limits. The key issues are to:

  • maintain an effective prohibition on fishing for salmon beyond areas of fisheries jurisdiction;
  • further improve the ‘fairness’ and balance in management of distant-water fisheries;
  • explore possibilities for longer-term regulatory measures;
  • exchange information and transfer expertise and knowledge between Parties and between NGOs and the authorities;
  • further develop the knowledge basis for fisheries regulations.

In 2009, the Council adopted Guidelines for the Management of Salmon Fisheries to assist jurisdictions in making further progress in implementing NASCO's agreements. Read more...
(These Guidelines are also available in French.
Read more...)

Progress in implementing NASCO's Agreements and Guidelines relating to the management of salmon fisheries is assessed through review of Implementation Plans, Focus Area Reports and Annual Progress Reports. Read more...

In 2014 the Council held a Theme-based Special Session on the topic of 'Management of single and mixed stock fisheries, with particular focus on fisheries on stocks below their conservation limit' Read more...

The objectives of this session were to allow for a more detailed exchange of information on the management of salmon fisheries including:

  • progress in establishing conservation limits, or alternative reference points, and the approaches being used to manage fisheries in their absence;
  • how management measures are used to ensure the protection of the weakest contributing stocks in mixed-stock fisheries;
  • how socio-economic considerations, including the interests of indigenous people, are weighed against conservation needs and, where fishing is permitted on stocks below their CLs, the approaches being used to ensure that exploitation is limited to a level that permits stock rebuilding within a stated timeframe.

Ecosystem effects of salmon fisheries

ICES considers that salmon fisheries probably have 'no or only minor influence on the marine ecosystem'. There are concerns about the possible by-catch of Atlantic salmon in fisheries for other pelagic fish species (see the ICES by-catch reports listed below).

Regulatory measures

Regulatory measures agreed by NASCO have greatly reduced the interception of salmon in the distant-water fisheries at West Greenland and around the Faroe Islands.  These fisheries now only account for 1-2% of the total catch. There has been no commercial harvest by the Faroe Islands since the early 1990s and the Greenland fishery is currently an internal-use fishery.

The Convention requires that conservation and management measures taken by States of Origin be taken into account in establishing regulatory measures. Major reductions in fishing effort and quotas have occurred all around the North Atlantic. Management measures in response to declining abundance have resulted in major reductions in catches. View Catch Statistics...

Fishing for salmon in international waters by non-NASCO Parties

NASCO has taken measures to eliminate fishing for salmon in international waters by non-NASCO Parties. View Protocol for non-NASCO Parties... NASCO has taken steps to improve exchange of information on this issue. View Resolution on Fishing on the High Seas... There have been no sightings of vessels fishing for salmon in international waters since the early 1990s.

Catch and Release fishing

There is increasing use of catch and release in recreational fisheries and NASCO has developed guidelines detailing best practice. Read more...

Tag Return Scheme

NASCO operates a Tag Return Incentive Scheme to encourage the return of external tags applied to salmon.These tags are applied to salmon to better understand the migration and level of exploitation of salmon. Read more...

Further information on Management of Salmon Fisheries: