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ICNAF Documents and Publications

Link here to access the numerous ICNAF documents and publications.

ICNAF Docs. & Pubs.


First Meeting of ICNAF in 1951

International Commission for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries (ICNAF)


The International Commission for the Northwest Atlantic (ICNAF) was among the first regional fisheries management body to be established in the world (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.) and was considered to have played a leading role in the assessment and management of fish stocks outside of national jurisdictions.

Despite ICNAF’s lead role and innovations in the formulation of fishery management techniques, an overwhelming expansion of long distance fleets in the 1950s and 1960s had a profound and lasting effect on the fishery resources in the northwest Atlantic. An extensive learning curve in understanding status and effects of exploitation on the fish populations, and limits on controls that could be imposed in international waters, diminished the effectiveness of ICNAF.

See below for more information on ICNAF in the drop down menus. A reference list is available as well.

A pdf is available here (952 kb)

History of ICNAF

History of Northwest Atlantic Fisheries - ICNAF years

Formation of ICNAF – events leading up to the 1949 conference

Subsequent discussions that took place at ICES and at the Overfishing Convention of 1946 (the follow-up to the 1943 Convention) dealt only with the eastern Atlantic although problems of over-exploitation Atlantic wide were recognized. At the suggestion of the USA, a separate conference was convened in Washington, DC on Jan. 26-Feb. 8 1949. It was attended by eleven countries with interests in fisheries off the east coast of North America. Delegations comprising fishery administrators, scientists and industry representatives from Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Newfoundland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America participated in the International Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Conference. The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) and ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) attended as observers.

It was well understood the difficulty of the task at hand when it was stated in the report of the conference that: “The need for thorough consideration of the problems facing the Commission is paramount, and considerable time will be needed for assembling the material required for a determination of those problems”.

However, the primary purpose of that 1949 conference was to formulate a Convention (international treaty) pertaining to management of the fisheries of the Northwest Atlantic outside the territorial seas of the Coastal States, west of 42º W longitude, between 39º W and 78º 10'N latitude. The key outcome and the Final Act of the conference was the publication of a Fisheries Treaty known as the International Convention for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries.

Categories: ICNAF

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Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization
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1601 Lower Water Street 
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Halifax, Nova Scotia
Canada B3J 3P6

Tel: +1 902 468-5590