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The Convention on 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 its then 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 (ICNAF). Currently NAFO has thirteen Contracting Parties: Canada, Cuba, Denmark (in respect of the Faroe Islands and Greenland), European Union, France (in respect of St. Pierre and Miquelon), Iceland, Japan, Norway, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

The objective of this Convention is to ensure the long term conservation and sustainable use of the fishery resources in the Convention Area and, in so doing, to safeguard the marine ecosystems in which these resources are found.

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

The Convention has been amended four times, on 1 January 1980, on 9 October 1987, on 13 September 1996 and on 18 May 2017. The first three sets of amendments modified some of the boundaries of Subareas, Divisions and Subdivisions of the Convention Area contained in Annex I of the Convention. The fourth (18 May 2017) set of amendments were comprehensive, designed to modernize NAFO, particularly by incorporating an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. The fourth set of amendments also streamlined NAFO’s decision-making process, strengthened the obligations of Contracting Parties, flag States and port States, and instituted a formal dispute settlement mechanism.


STACTIC Rules of Procedure

9 May 2023

STACTIC Rules of Procedure

regarding data confidentiality and participation in meetings

NAFO Conservation and Enforcement Measures

Rules of Procedure and Financial Regulations


22 September 2017


Order in Council

11 January 1980

Order in Council


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 Kingdom Instrument of Accession • deposited on 18 September 2020

 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
Summit Place
1601 Lower Water Street 
Suite 401
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Canada B3J 3P6

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