ELLSWORTH — Last month, the North Atlantic Salmon Federation and the Atlantic Salmon Federation announced agreements that would limit the commercial harvest of Atlantic salmon off the coast of Greenland and around the Faroe Islands, an archipelago of 18 rocky islands belonging to Denmark lying between Iceland and Norway in the North Atlantic.
The effect of the separate agreements between the conservation groups and the Greenlandic and Faroese fishermen’s unions ensured that there would be no commercial netting of salmon this summer as the fish return to their natal rivers around the North Atlantic basin to spawn.
According to an ASF announcement in late May, the two agreements made it likely that “increasing numbers of large, adult salmon from all over the Atlantic salmon habitat will spawn in their home rivers starting this August, providing critical population growth for both robust and imperiled stocks.”
Last Friday, NOAA Fisheries issued a statement that it said clarified some ambiguities in the earlier announcements.
According to Kim Damon-Randall, head of U.S. delegation to the international North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO), “significant progress has been made towards the management” of the West Greenland Atlantic salmon fishery, but there are still areas of concern.
From now on, all harvesters of Atlantic salmon, both private and commercial, will have to be licensed. To implement that requirement Greenland’s government has established a digital licensing system.
As in many U.S. domestic fisheries, all harvesters will be required to provide an detailed reports of their fishing activities and landings, including no fishing effort and zero landings, prior to receiving a license to fish the following year.
Damon-Randall clarified that the agreements announced by the ASF and the NASF in May are confidential, private agreements involving the Association of Fishermen and Hunters in Greenland (KNAPK), the details of which are known only to the parties. As such, the terms of the agreement are not binding on the Greenlandic government of Greenland.
Another problem is that KNAPK represents only the professional hunters and fishermen of Greenland and does bind private individuals who fish for their own personal consumption as part of a substantial subsistence fishery.
The result, according to NOAA, is that the agreement establishes a quota of up to 20 metric tons (about 44,000 pounds) of Atlantic salmon for commercial fishermen covers both commercial sales in local open air markets within each community as well as any harvests for their own personal consumption. Not included in that agreement were landings by private individuals and for the Faroe Islands fishery.
Accordingly, NASCO has established a 30-metric-ton (66,000-pound) quota for the western Greenland fishery going forward that encompasses both the quota agreed to by Greenland’s professional fishing union and an additional 10 metric ton (22,000-pound) quota for the newly licensed private fishermen who fish for their own consumption.