The collapse of the cod stocks around Newfoundland, in the early 1990s, was a salutary call to fisheries scientists and managers. The collapse of what once was one of the world’s greatest fisheries, lead to the conclusion that uncertainties in fishery science were substantially greater than what was previously believed. This resulted in the notion of implementing a precautionary approach to fisheries management.
The Precautionary Approach (PA) developed into formal international policy on resource management in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro, also known as the Rio Conference. In contrast to the previously widely accepted Maximum Sustainable Yield management approach, the PA takes into consideration population and ecosystem dynamics, life history of species, and external factors that affect natural resources.
Upon the recommendation of the NAFO Scientific Council, the NAFO Fisheries Commission adopted a Precautionary Approach Framework (PAF) to guide fisheries management decision making in 2004. The PAF is used for improved protection of resources, and to determine appropriate resource management measures in the absence of sufficient scientific data.
In 2014, the joint Fisheries Commission-Scientific Council Working Group on Risk-based Management Strategies (WG-RBMS) was established. This group enhances the application of risk-based assessment approaches when evaluating management strategies, as well as implements the broader use of the NAFO Precautionary Approach Framework.
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FC Doc. 2004/18