The decision to highlight the refusal of the two countries to follow international scientific advice to protect Atlantic salmon stocks was taken at a meeting in Iceland of the Faroe Salmon Fishing Vessel Owner´s Association (Laksaskip) and NASF.
Most of the remaining stocks of wild salmon from European rivers migrate to the seas off the Faroes to feed and grow and the two organisations meet annually to review the state of the stocks. The maturing salmon are at their most vulnerable to commercial exploitation while they mass on their feeding grounds in northern waters.
For 23 years the commercial salmon fishery off the Faroes has been closed in the hope that the tens of thousands of fish that this saves every year will be allowed to return to their home rivers to restore the salmon’s former abundance. But, in defiance of international agreements, the governments of Scotland and Norway continue to allow their commercial netsmen to kill most of the fish before they can spawn.
NASF, an international conservation organisation, raises money and resources from all over the world to replace the lost income of professional fishermen throughout the North Atlantic who give up salmon fishing.
At the meeting last week, the two organisations agreed to express grave concern at the slow recovery of wild Atlantic salmon stocks worldwide. Their statement said:
‘We are extremely disappointed by the lack of unity and cooperation displayed by Scotland and Norway. These two governments ignore the wishes of their neighbouring countries and continue, against scientific advice, to promote the commercial interception of their own and the diminishing salmon stocks of other nations.
This is particularly true of Norway’s exploitation of the salmon stocks of the Russian Federation that should be allowed to return to their home rivers. We call upon Russia and the United States of America to take an international leadership role in promoting the need to protect the remaining stocks of wild Atlantic salmon and rebuild public trust in the feasibility of restoring their numbers to their former abundance.
We call for new approaches and the application of new techniques in the management of Atlantic salmon stocks and urge the adoption of:
• Action plans to implement effective and innovative policies.
• Coordination of activities to encourage and equip a new cadre of leaders and practitioners.
• The adoption of methodology and practices that have proved successful elsewhere in restoring Atlantic salmon rivers. This includes the full recognition of the necessity of setting performance goals and obtaining accurate measurements of results.
• The same rights, the same responsibilities and the same science for every nation.’