Greenland salmon harvest adjusted upward

Report indicates catch now exceeds 20 tonne conservation agreement cap
Mar 29, 2019
ST. ANDREWS – The Atlantic Salmon Federation is surprised and disappointed by the latest catch statistics from the Greenland Ministry of Fisheries, Hunting, and Agriculture. In a March 20 letter to delegates of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO), a ministry official states the reported catch at Greenland in 2018 was 40.3 tonnes, or approximately 12,100 large, wild Atlantic salmon.

In May 2018, ASF, the North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF), and the Greenland fishermen’s union Kalaallit Nunaanni Aalisartut Piniartullu Kattuffiat (KNAPK), signed an agreement to suspend the commercial harvest of salmon for 12-years in exchange for grants and contributions to sustainable fishery development, marine research, education, and eco-tourism initiatives. The agreement set out a 20-tonne subsistence quota for all salmon fisheries.

Throughout the 2018 Greenland salmon fishing season, which runs annually from August 15 to October 31, ASF and NASF received weekly reports from KNAPK detailing the running total of salmon caught by all fishermen. KNAPK’s source for this information was the Greenland Fishery and License Control Authority (GFLK), a government agency.

The last report ASF received was on November 11, stating the total catch was 17.78 tonnes. However, information contained in the Greenland government’s letter to NASCO indicates totals at the end of the season were 26.8 tonnes, later adjusted upwards to 40.3 tonnes as fishermen continued to report their harvest months after the season ended. KNAPK has informed ASF and NASF they were not in receipt of this information and have asked GFLK for an explanation.

In January, 2019, nearly three months after the end of the season, ASF issued a press release announcing the total harvest was 17.78 tonnes.

“We understood there could be some minor adjustments and we waited patiently before speaking publicly,” said ASF President Bill Taylor. “Our agreement with KNAPK is structured to deal with overharvest and underharvest, but the latest catch figures are twice what we agreed to. ASF has conducted itself in good faith. We have lived up to all our obligations, and our decisions have been based on the best scientific advice and what’s best for the species.”

The ASF-NASF-KNAPK agreement requires mandatory licensing of all salmon fishermen and mandatory catch reporting in order to be eligible for a license the following year. These measures were later agreed to by state representatives at NASCO and subsequently enacted in regulation by an executive order of the Greenland government. This gave ASF reasonable confidence in the reports provided.

“Even though the information is late, because of these new management measures, the 40.3 tonnes of reported catch is likely the most reliable figure in the history of the Greenland salmon fishery, where reporting by fishermen has typically been very low,” said Bill Taylor.

For example, in 2014 the reported Greenland harvest was 58 tonnes with the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), a scientific body that provides non-biased fishery advice to governments, estimating an additional unreported catch that may have been as high as 30 tonnes.

ASF and NASF are actively working to understand why the fishery exceeded the widely acknowledged subsistence quota. We are speaking with our partners at KNAPK to strengthen management, monitoring, and reporting in order to ensure the successful continuation of the conservation agreement in 2019 and beyond.

The ASF-NASF-KNAPK agreement, and the subsequent regulatory measure enacted by NASCO include penalties for exceeding salmon fishing quotas. The amount overfished is subtracted from the following year’s allowable harvest.

Currently, ICES is reviewing 2018 salmon fishery data from governments around the North Atlantic and may make further adjustments to the Greenland catch total in its final report to NASCO.


For more information contact:
Neville Crabbe – ASF Communications

ncrabbe@asf.ca
506-529-1033

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