Historically, ICNAF and NAFO have conducted several symposia on decadal reviews of environmental conditions in the Northwest Atlantic and their influence on fish stocks. The first was held at Rome, Italy, in 1964, which addressed the decade of 1950-59 (ICNAF Special Publication, No. 6, 1965). The second symposium in Dartmouth, Canada, during May 1971 focused upon the decade of 1960-69 (ICNAF Special Publication, No. 8, 1972). A Symposium on environmental conditions in the Newfoundland Grand Bank Area in 1972 and their effects on Fishery Trends was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in May 1973 (ICNAF Special Publication, No. 10, 1975) while the decade of 1970-1979 was reviewed at Dartmouth, Canada, in September 1981 (NAFO Scientific Council Studies, No. 5, 1982). A fourth symposium was held at NAFO headquarters in Dartmouth during September 1994 on the impact of anomalous oceanographic conditions at the beginning of the 1990s in the Northwest Atlantic on the distribution and behaviour of marine life and included reviews of the 1980s and early-1990s (NAFO Scientific Council Studies, No. 24, 1996). (Copies of these publications are archived at the NAFO Secretariat).
It was recognized that this information had not been updated recently and so it was decided to conduct an overview of climate conditions in NAFO waters during the June 2002 meeting of STACFEN. A mini-Symposium, entitled Hydrographic variability in NAFO waters for the decade 1991-2000 in relation to past decades was held in conjunction with the Scientific Council meeting. A total of 8 oral presentations were given reviewing meteorological, sea-ice and oceanographic variability in all NAFO Subareas from SA 1 off West Greenland to SA 6 off the northeast coast of the United States. They ranked the past decade in relation to long-term term climate change and several also considered the effects of the climate variations on the fisheries.
The presenations form this symposium are now published as Journal of Northwest Atlantic Fishery Science, Vol. 34