Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VME) Closures

Within its Convention Area, NAFO has identified 21 areas as being vulnerable to bottom contact gears and subsequently closed these areas to bottom fishing (see Article 17 of the NAFO CEM). NAFO has also delineated existing bottom fishing areas (footprint) to regulate bottom fisheries that cause a significant adverse impact on vulnerable marine ecosystems. 

The VME closed areas are divided into two categories, the blue areas in the map below represent the seamount closures, and the red areas represent the sponge, coral, and seapen closures. As reflected in Article 17 of the NAFO CEM, no vessel shall engage in bottom fishing activities in any of these areas. The coordinates for these areas are provided in Article 17 of the NAFO CEM.

 Click here to access the shapefiles.

FAO-VME Database

The vulnerable marine ecosystem (VME) concept emerged from discussions at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and gained momentum after UNGA Resolution 61/105. The FAO VME Database is a global inventory of fisheries measures adopted in areas beyond national jurisdiction to prevent significant adverse impacts of bottom fisheries on vulnerable marine ecosystems. The interactive website can be accessed by clicking the image below:


Contact us

Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization
2 Morris Drive, Suite 100
(Burnside Industrial Park)
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Canada B3B 1K8

Tel: +1 902 468-5590
Fax: +1 902 468-5538