The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) is a regional fisheries management organization (RFMO) founded in 1979. NAFO's overall purpose is to help its members work together and share knowledge to effectively manage and conserve the high seas fishery resources of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean.
The NAFO Convention Area encompasses a large portion of the North Atlantic Ocean and includes the 200-mile exclusive economic zones of coastal States jurisdiction (Canada, Denmark in respect of Greenland, France in respect of St. Pierre et Miquelon and USA). However, regulatory action by NAFO is limited to those parts of the Convention Area beyond areas of national jurisdiction. This is called the Regulatory Area.
NAFO management covers most fishery resources in the Northwest Atlantic except salmon, tunas/marlins, whales, and sedentary species (e.g. snow crab, lobster and various clams). NAFO covers the following straddling stocks: cod in NAFO division(s) 3NO, redfish in 3LN and 3O, American plaice in 3LNO, yellowtail flounder in 3LNO, witch flounder in 3L and 3NO, white hake in 3NO, capelin in 3NO, skates in 3NO, Greenland halibut in 3LMNO, squid in sub-areas 3 & 4, and shrimp in 3L.
NAFO also shares management with the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) of the oceanic redfish stock that is found in the Convention Areas waters of both RFMOs.
See Facts on Fish for more details on all NAFO-managed fish stocks.
NAFO currently comprises 12 Contracting Parties:
The Secretariat (NAFO headquarters) is located in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada.
NAFO is committed to an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. NAFO’s management includes provisions that minimize the harmful impact of fishing activities on living marine resources and marine ecosystems, and requirements that preserve marine bio-diversity. Its work protecting sensitive deepwater habitats such as seamounts and corals is one example of this. Supporting scientific research and advice is a major part of NAFO’s mandate.
NAFO has achieved some important milestones to become a strong, modern, and effective RFMO.
As a result, the compliance of fishing vessels with NAFO regulations has visibly increased, illegal, unreported and uncontrolled (IUU) fishing has decreased, and some fish stocks are already showing signs of recovery. However, in spite of the modern approaches to fisheries management, the abundance of many traditional NAFO fish stocks continues to be low, an indication that the rebuilding process will take time.
Canada continues to take a leadership role in NAFO.
Learn more about NAFO: