Outcome of the 2023 annual meeting of the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission
The annual meeting of the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) took place between 14-17 November 2023 in London, with parties agreeing on a number of proposals which aim to ensure the conservation and best use of fishery resources in the NEAFC Regulatory Area.
The meeting was attended by all six Contracting Parties to the NEAFC Convention. Key outcomes of the annual meeting included a rollover of the existing closure of the Rockall haddock box, a measure which protects juvenile haddock in the area. This closure has been in place for a number of years, and the UK worked together with the EU on this measure, which was agreed by consensus.
Measures were adopted for mackerel and Atlanto-Scandian herring (ASH) in the NEAFC Regulatory Area (international waters) in 2024. These measures reflect the outcomes of Coastal State consultations and prevent countries who are not Coastal States or fishing parties to fish for these stocks. Discussions on blue whiting measures will continue and if required a recommendation will be considered through written procedure at a later date.
A number of stock specific management measures were adopted. These include prohibiting a directed fishery for basking sharks, deep-sea rays, deep-sea sharks and chimaeras from 2024-2027. In addition, for 2024 there will be no direct fishery for porbeagle. Finally, a restriction of fisheries on blue ling during its spawning period for the period 2024-2027 was also adopted.
A climate change proposal was adopted, which sets out the high-level aspirations and principles to better understand the impacts that climate change is having on NEAFC regulated stocks and the marine environment.
A proposal for Other Effective Area Based Conservation Measures (OECM) was adopted. This recognises current closed areas as OECMs. It also includes an International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES) request for advice on the biodiversity/eco-system benefits of the areas restricted to bottom fishing in the NEAFC Regulatory Area.
Parties also agreed to adopt a number of control and enforcement measures and Cooperating Non-Contracting Party (CNCP) status was renewed for Canada, the Bahamas, and Panama.
Measures currently in place at NEAFC can be viewed on the NEAFC website.