Greenland Atlantic salmon catch numbers well above new quota

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The initial catch figure of 18 tonnes ballooned to more than 40 tonnes due to late reporting and miscalculations. (Submitted/Atlantic Salmon Federation)
Just a few months ago, members of the Atlantic Salmon Federation were celebrating.

Initial figures from Greenland showed the salmon catch clocked in under 18 tonnes, two fewer than the limit agreed to under a deal between the federation and the Association of Fishers and Hunters in Greenland and North Atlantic Salmon Fund in Iceland.

However, that celebration has fizzled. Federation spokesman Neville Crabbe says the final figures have more than doubled to over 40 tonnes of fish.

Crabbe said the federation received a letter from the government of Greenland explaining the sizeable discrepancy occurred because of problems with reporting from communities, as well as miscalculations made on the government’s part.

“Fishermen who had filled out paper reports of their catch and left them at municipal offices up and down the west coast of Greenland, those reports weren’t submitted in a timely manner to the government’s licensing authority,” he said.

Fishing agreement hard to enforce

The deal reached between the federation and fishers’ association in Greenland sets out a 20-tonne subsistence quota, much less than the 45 tonnes that communities on the country’s west coast have historically brought in.

It also banned commercial fishing in the area by providing fishing communities with financial compensation equivalent to the market price of the 25 tonnes of salmon they can no longer catch.

The federation is working to learn more about how the drastic shift in numbers happened and plans to make sure it doesn’t happen again, Crabbe said.

“I think it speaks to the difficulty of enforcing fisheries agreements everywhere.”

He said the challenges of the agreement with Greenland include trying to work across time zones, languages and cultures.

Unreported catch
An agreement between the Atlantic Salmon Federation and the Association of Fishers and Hunters in Greenland limits the annual catch to a 20-tonne subsistence quota. (CBC)

Still, Crabbe said Greenland’s government deserves credit for the work it has done already to protect salmon populations in the Atlantic.

They have enacted important regulatory measures that now require for the first time that all fishermen be licensed and that all fishermen report their salmon catch, he said.

“Unfortunately that reported figure is higher than we initially believed it to be.”

Crabbe said the unreported catch has always been significant in Greenland. He cited figures from 2014, when the reported harvest was 58 tonnes, but a panel of international scientists estimated the unreported catch may have been as high as 30 tonnes, bringing the total catch for the season to almost 90 tonnes of fish.

“Its the broad international scientific consensus that there are not enough adult Atlantic salmon in the whole north Atlantic to support a mixed stock fishery at Greenland,” Crabbe said.

Salmon come into Greenland’s waters from more than 2,000 rivers. Some come from healthy populations, but others come from rivers where the fish are threatened.

“The fishery can’t discriminate between fish taken from a healthy population and fish taken from depressed populations. So that’s why the Greenland fishery has a magnified negative effect,” Crabbe said.

He said as they head into the second season under this agreement the federation is confident in its efforts to improve reporting and reduce the number of fish taken every year.

With files from Shift

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada invests $1.2 million to help solve mystery of dwindling char numbers in Arctic, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: What a Saami-led salmon rewilding project in Arctic Finland can teach us about Indigenous science, Eye on the Arctic

Greenland: Binding agreement on Arctic fisheries moratorium officially signed by EU and nine countries, Radio Canada International

Norway: Norwegian trawler arrested in northwest Russia for illegal fishing, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Norway and Russia agree to slash cod quotas in Barents Sea, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Environmentalists seek solutions to ghost net problem in Baltic Sea, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. gov clears path for genetically engineered salmon, Alaska Public Media

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One thought on “Greenland Atlantic salmon catch numbers well above new quota

  • Avatar
    Thursday, April 4, 2019 at 20:26
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    If Greenland caught twice the amount of salmon last year what they where surpose to catch maybe they should not to be allowed to catch any this year. Its like i always said Canada is rasing Atlantic Salmon so other country’s can catch it, while we have to hook and release.

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