NOAA 2001-068
Contact: Gordon Helm

Endangered United States Atlantic Salmon Gain Protections Through New International Agreement

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, today announced an international agreement that will reduce risk to endangered United States Atlantic salmon populations. The agreement was made at the 17th annual meeting of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization by the United States and NASCO's other international member-partners. Under the agreement, a new management system will be adopted that provides protections for North American salmon by guarding against their over harvest off West Greenland.

"Every U.S. salmon is essential to the recovery of Atlantic salmon," said Rolland Schmitten, director, Office of Habitat Conservation, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, and head of the U.S. delegation. "We are pleased that in cooperation with our NASCO partners we were able to develop this innovative management measure based on sound science, to ensure that our endangered salmon stocks are properly safe-guarded."

The new agreement calls for the implementation of conservative quotas based on real-time monitoring of stock levels, rather than unreliable abundance forecasts. The newly-adopted stock managing method sets a very conservative, initial quota for 2001 of 28 metric tons. Increases are allowed if real-time monitoring verifies actual numbers of salmon off Greenland. The risk to North American Atlantic salmon stocks is reduced under this precautionary and adaptive management system.

The new management approach demonstrates the United States and its international partners' ongoing commitment to reduce the risk of further decline in North American Atlantic salmon stocks. This agreement also furthers the goals of the NASCO members by utilizing the best available scientific data and making management decisions in a very open manner.

At the recently concluded 2001 meeting in Spain, NASCO members also agreed to establish an International Salmon Research Program to identify and explain the causes of declines in Atlantic salmon abundance. The reasons for the decline appear to be linked, at least in part, to conditions in the marine environment.

NASCO members also adopted internationally-agreed guidelines for the containment of salmon in aquaculture facilities. These guidelines, which were developed by a liaison group between managers of wild salmon populations and industry representatives, seek to reduce escapes of farmed salmon into the wild to the lowest possible level. The United States will develop an action plan to implement these international guidelines and will present this information to the liaison group in April 2002.

This year's NASCO agreement also commits each member nation to develop a comprehensive action plan to maintain, and where possible, increase the current productive capacity of Atlantic salmon habitat. At the 2002 NASCO meeting, the United States will make a presentation highlighting its habitat program.

The United States also initiated measures at this year's meeting to increase the involvement and participation of non-governmental organizations in the work of NASCO. NASCO agreed to allow NGOs to make statements to each of its three regional commissions. During the 2001 annual meeting NASCO members acknowledged the positive contributions of NGOs.