NAFO manages the international fisheries in the Northwest Atlantic by establishing conservation and management measures (NAFO Conservation and Enforcement Measures (NCEM)), such as total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas for commercial fish stocks (see quota table) as well as gear requirements, area and time restrictions, coral protection zones, minimum fish size, by-catch requirements and measures for the conservation and management of sharks. In addition, NAFO has developed a comprehensive array of monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) measures.
Control measures include authorization to fish, chartering arrangements, vessel register, vessel requirements, marking of gear and product labelling requirements.
In 2009 new Port State Control Measures were introduced.
The monitoring of fisheries consists in the recording of catch and stowage, reporting of catch and fishing effort (by flag states), a satellite-based VMS (Vessel Monitoring System) for hourly position reports, communication of catches and an observer program (independent observer on board of every fishing vessel). Electronic Observer forms can be downloaded here.
NAFO also has a joint (collaborative) inspections and surveillance scheme in place under which licensed inspectors board and inspect fishing vessels in international waters. Furthermore, all vessels landing catches from the Northwest Atlantic in ports of NAFO member states are submitted to a rigorous and obligatory port inspection. Finally, NAFO has developed a scheme to prevent IUU fishing by non-member vessels.
The NAFO Conservation and Enforcement Measures are reviewed and updated every year.
An annual compliance review was introduced in NAFO in 2003. This review uses information from the diverse NAFO monitoring and surveillance activities to determine how well the international fisheries complied with the NAFO management measures and regulations. The format of the compliance review is being continuously developed by STACTIC (Standing Committee on International Control). In 2012, the NAFO compliance review (FC Doc. 12/23) compared information from 2004 - 2011.
In 2008 a preliminary map of existing NAFO bottom fishing areas was presented (bottom fishing footprint). This map will be continuously reviewed and changed.