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NASF's victory will help restore threatened salmon stocks of four nations

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A prolonged campaign by the North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF)  has at last broken through outdated Norwegian policies that have caused great damage to Norway's own wild Atlantic salmon stocks and those of Russia, Sweden and Finland.


A prolonged campaign by the North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF)  has at last broken through outdated Norwegian policies that have caused great damage to Norway's own wild Atlantic salmon stocks and those of Russia, Sweden and Finland.

Wild salmon numbers on both sides of the North Atlantic have dropped to dangerously low levels in recent years .  One of the great problems is the lack of an integrated international approach to salmon conservation.  Norway's commercial salmon netting industry has been a prime example of one nation ignoring the rights of others.

For several years NASF has urged the Norwegian authorities to introduce new management policies that fulfil their UN Law of the Sea obligations.  Despite its previous objections Norway has now conceded that it must apply new measures to its fisheries that catch mixed stocks of salmon.  This should mean increased protection for many Norwegian rivers with low salmon numbers and a safer passage for other salmon that should return to other nations.

The Norwegians have now convened a meeting in Oslo on February 26 and invited representatives from Russia, Finland and Sweden to meet their Norwegian counterparts. They will discuss the interceptory nature of Norway's salmon nets, particularly those along the coast of Finnmark that target salmon returning to the rivers of several nations.

NASF chairman Orri Vigfusson  said: "Up to now some nations have chosen to ignore the provisions of the UN convention.  NASF is determined to see that for the sake of future wild salmon stocks, both the spirit and the letter of the convention is generally accepted and obeyed.  Hopefully, this is the beginning of the end of the mixed-stock salmon fisheries in Norway"  Mr Vigfusson praised Russia for the measured tenor of its request that Norway should observe the provisions of the  UN Convention. "It has been done very diplomatically,'" he said "and diplomacy has worked."

Article 66(1) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea directs that "state(s) in whose rivers anadromous stocks originate shall have the primary interest in and responsibility for such stocks."  This confers on individual member countries, such as Russia, Finland and Sweden, substantial rights in determining measures -- such as total allowable catches (TACs) -- to protect their stocks while the fish are migrating through the coastal waters of  other nations. Countries such as Norway are thus both host countries and countries of origin.  

Last week NASF representatives met Russias's State Committee for Fisheries in Moscow. The NASF chairman made a presentation illustrating the fact that salmon stocks that originate in the rivers of Russia, Finland and Sweden are inherently multi-national resources because they cross international boundaries during their oceanic migrations.

Mr Vigfusson also suggested a number of management options that would be open to the Russian delegation in Oslo later this month. NASF is making similar presentations in Finland and Sweden.
 
At the Moscow meeting the NASF chairman explained that salmon that originate in the rivers of one state and migrate into the waters of another state are also covered by other provisions of the Convention.  Article 66(4) provides that where salmon from one country migrate into or through the waters of a neighbouring state, that state "shall cooperate with the state of origin with regard to the  conservation and management of such stocks."  Article 66(2) allows a state of origin, after consulting with the neighbouring state, to establish a total allowable catch (TAC) of its salmon by the other nation. Article 56(2) directs each state to give "due regard to the rights and duties of other states."

The North Atlantic Salmon Fund, NASF, is a coalition of voluntary conservation groups who have come together to restore stocks of wild Atlantic salmon to their historic abundance. -

nasf@vortex.is - www.nasfworldwide.com






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