1951 -Canada, Denmark, Iceland, UK and USA
1975 – Bulgaria, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, France, German Democratic Republic (GDR), Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), Iceland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), United Kingdom (UK, including Ireland) and USA
1979 Bulgaria, Canada, Cuba, GDR, Iceland, Japan, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and USSR
At the first meeting of the Commission in 1951, the Commission recognized that “certain fisheries of the area, particularly off the New England coast of the United States of America, have shown signs of depletion”. The importance of the occasion was embodied in an address by the Undersecretary of the US Dept. of State “I am told that this is the first instance wherein a group of nations have formally committed themselves to a program of scientific investigation and regulation, to the end that fish resources of a vast area of the high seas shall be conserved and utilized prudently”. While conservative management in the coming years was not always observed, on a global scale, the formation of ICNAF represented a major step in the attempt to manage high seas fisheries.
At the first meeting of the Commission, Rules of Procedure were defined to create a framework for execution of the Convention. A supporting body for the Commission was instituted in the form of a Secretariat and established in Halifax Nova Scotia in 1953 to provide meeting support, compilation of reports and collation of statistics. The first addition to the staff was a statistician, in recognition of the importance of fishery statistics in the conduct of managing the fisheries.
ICNAF work was done by five committees known as Panels, corresponding to five statistical areas. The Panel system was employed to “review the fisheries of its subarea and the associated scientific, statistical and other information and, on the basis of scientific investigations, making recommendations to the Commission for adoption (e.g. regulatory measures, scientific studies and investigations.”
The Commission established a Research and Statistics (STACRES, 1951) to advise on conduct and coordination of national research programs, on the collection of statistics and provide advice on regulatory measures. Research and statistical programs were carried out by agencies of the various Contracting Parties thus constituting a loosely coordinated international effort. In later years, two other standing committees were formed, STACREM, 1967 and STACTIC, 1971, both regulatory bodies.