Greenland fishery plans cause alarm in Canada

Salmon leaping on the Big East River, northwestern Newfoundland. (Tom Moffatt / Atlantic Salmon Federation)
Salmon leaping on the Big East River, northwestern Newfoundland. (Tom Moffatt / Atlantic Salmon Federation)

Every winter, salmon from all over the north Atlantic, including Canada, converge on Greenland to feed in the territory’s waters.

For the last decade, Greenland has forgone commercial fishing of these salmon, in the interest of conservation.

But a recent announcement by the territory that it plans to open a commercial fishery has caused alarm in some North Atlantic countries where certain salmon populations are in critical decline.

A meeting of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO) in Ireland last week failed to reach a solution.

Keith Ashfield, Canada’s minister of Fisheries and Oceans, said he was disappointed with Greenland’s decision.

“The purpose of international organizations like the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization is to encourage cooperation, thereby ensuring fisheries sustainability,” Ashfield said in a press release this week.

“Greenland’s actions go against these objectives and the Government of Canada urges it to adhere to internationally acceptable levels.”

When reached this week, a spokesperson for Greenland’s Ministry of Fisheries, Hunting and Agriculture said no one at the ministry was able to give an English-language interview on the issue.

The ministry did not respond to a request for a written statement.

However, Greenland has earlier said it harvests significantly less salmon than other Atlantic nations yet has been saddled with a disproportionate amount of the responsibility for conservation.

To tell us more about the controversy, and what’s at stake for the health of Canada’s wild Atlantic salmon stocks, Eye on the Arctic’s Eilís Quinn spoke with Bill Taylor, the president of the conservation group Atlantic Salmon Federation.

To listen to their conversation, click here

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying an culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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