The Convention on Future Multilateral Cooperation in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries, signed on 24 October 1978 in Ottawa, came into force on 1 January 1979 following the deposit with the Government of Canada the instruments of ratification, acceptance and approval by seven signatories: Canada, Cuba, the European Economic Community (EEC), German Democratic Republic (GDR), Iceland, Norway, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). This Convention, establishing the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), replaced the 1949 International Convention for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries and the International Commission for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries (ICNAF). The prime objective of NAFO has been to contribute through consultation and cooperation to the optimum utilization, rational management and conservation of the fishery resources of the Convention Area. NAFO promotes contemporary ideas for international collaboration in the high seas based on the scientific research fundamentals.

On 28 September 2007, after a two-year process, NAFO adopted a document entitled "Amendment to the Convention on Future Multilateral Cooperation in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries", constituting the first formal step towards a reformed Convention for NAFO. In 2008 the French version of the NAFO Convention was adopted paving the way for the ratification process. The adopted text now has to be ratified by at least three-fourths of the NAFO Contracting Parties to become legally binding. The complete process is described in Article XXI of the current NAFO Convention.

To-date, nine Contracting Parties have approved the amendments to the Convention, namely Canada, Cuba, Denmark (in respect of Faroe Islands and Greenland), European Union, France (in respect of St. Pierre et Miquelon), Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation and the USA.

As we have now attained approval by three-fourths of all Contracting Parties, the amendments to the Convention is expected to come into force later this year barring no objections from a NAFO Contracting Party.

The constituent bodies of NAFO are: the General Council, Scientific Council, Fisheries Commission, and the Secretariat, which specific functions are set out in the Convention, Rules of Procedure, and the Staff Rules.

The number of Contracting Parties has varied over time. See the table below to view current and former Contracting Parties.

During 1979-96 the Convention was amended three times by modifications of its Annex III - Scientific and Statistical Subareas, Divisions and Subdivisions, which boundaries between Subareas 0-1, 4-5 and 3 of the Convention Area were changed on 1 January 1980, on 9 October 1987, and 13 September 1996, respectively.


Resolutions   Amended Convention  Rules of Procedure & Financial Regulations 

Current Contracting Parties


Instrument of Ratification • deposited on 30 November 1978


Instrument of Ratification • deposited on 22 December 1978

 Denmark (in respect of the Faroe Islands and Greenland)

Instrument of Acceptance • deposited on 30 May 1979

 European Union (EU)

Instrument of Approval • deposited on 28 December 1978

 France (in respect of St. Pierre et Miquelon)

Instrument of Accession • deposited on 14 August 1996


Instrument of Ratification • deposited on 29 December 1978


Instrument of Ratification • deposited on 4 January 1980


Instrument of Ratification • deposited on 28 December 1978


 Korea, Republic of

Instrument of Accession • deposited on 21 December 1993

 Russian Federation

from 1 January 1992
Continued from the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR);
Instrument of Acceptance • deposited on 27 December 1978


Instrument of Accession • deposited on 30 August 1999

 United States of America

Instrument of Ratification • deposited on 29 November 1995


Former Contracting Parties

Bulgaria Instrument of Ratification • deposited on 6 June 1979
withdrew 31 December 2006
Estonia Instrument of Accession • deposited on 31 August 1992
acceded to the EU
Latvia Instrument of Accession • deposited on 28 August 1992
acceded to the EU
Lithuania Instrument of Accession • deposited on 18 August 1992
acceded to the EU
Poland Instrument of Ratification • deposited on 6 November 1979
acceded to the EU
Romania Instrument of Ratification • deposited on 5 March 1979
withdrew 31 December 2002
Portugal 27 May 1979 - 31 December 1986, then Portugal acceded to the EU
Spain 31 August 1983 - 31 December 1986, then Spain acceded to the EU
German Democratic Republic 28 December 1978 - 31 December 1990, at reunification of Germany acceded to the EU
USSR 27 December 1978 - 31 December 1991, then USSR was succeeded by the Russian Federation

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


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