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May 31, 2018

Conservation group reaches deal to protect wild Atlantic salmon

The Atlantic Salmon Federation has joined with the North Atlantic Salmon Fund to close a deal with Greenland and Faroe Island fishermen to protect wild Atlantic salmon from commercial fishing.

"Basically we are paying the fishermen in Greenland not to fish for Atlantic salmon and sell them commercially," Atlantic Salmon Federation Vice President of U.S. Programs Andrew Goode told Maine Public.

According to its news release, the Atlantic Salmon Federation and North Atlantic Salmon Fund have signed a 12-year Greenland Salmon Conservation Agreement with commercial fishermen in Greenland and the Faroe Islands aimed at protecting thousands of adult wild Atlantic salmon from commercial nets and longlines, allowing them to return to North American and European rivers.

Representatives of ASF, NASF, and the Association of Fishers and Hunters in Greenland finalized the agreement on May 24 in Reykjavik, Iceland, after more than 12 months of negotiations. The Faroe Island agreement between ASF, NASF and the Faroese Salmon Fishing Vessel Association was signed in Reykjavik on May 22, continuing a decades-long suspension of commercial salmon fishing dating back to 1991.

According to the release, the coastal waters of Greenland and the Faroe Islands are critical ocean feeding grounds for large wild Atlantic salmon from hundreds of rivers in North America and Europe. Commercial catches in these areas are known as "mixed-stock" fisheries because salmon are captured from relatively healthy populations as well as endangered ones.

This impacts vulnerable rivers like the Penobscot River in the U.S. and the St. John River in Canada, as well as rivers with reduced counts, such as the Tweed in Scotland, Iceland's Bix Laxa and the Alta in Norway.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Greenland and Faroese delegations to the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization will declare zero commercial quotas at next month's international summit in Portland. As a result, mature salmon that would otherwise be removed by commercial nets will begin returning to their home rivers in the spring of 2019.

In exchange for no commercial salmon fishing in Greenland, ASF and NASF will financially support alternative economic development, scientific research, and education initiatives focused on marine conservation. A subsistence harvest by licensed recreational fishermen for personal and family consumption will continue

All money required to support these agreements is raised privately from donors and supporters of ASF and NASF.

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