Whats good for the goose...

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Its fair to wonder why fishing agreements are in place if the parties are in no way bound to them and sometimes make no effort to stay within the regulations.

Canada has closed its ports to vessels from Greenland and the Faroe Islands because those countries have been refusing to stay within shrimp quotas.

In fact, both have set their own quotas: these two territories of Denmark have unilaterally set a quota of 3,101 tonnes, almost 10 times greater than the quota set by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization for international waters about 400 kilometres east of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The move has apparently had some effect: officials from the two territories say they want to resume talks over the quotas. But it would be interesting to be a fly on the wall during such a discussion how can there be grounds for debate when the overfishing is so blatant? They treat rules like theyre mere suggestions.

We see such abuse time and time again involving the fisheries, along with lack of recourse to straighten matters out and a move back to sustainable harvest. And consider the track record of fishing fleets in the Atlantic: it wouldnt be the first time a species is pushed to the brink of endangerment.

This is doubly frustrating considering the kind of pressure put on Canada in regard to the seal hunt.

The European Union recently voted for a ban on seal products and some of the member countries in the past have suggested boycotting Canadian products to apply pressure over a hunt they dont condone.

And thats not even a matter of sustainability, as is the case with violations of quota.

Either organizations such as NAFO need to have more binding restrictions or else this country needs to adopt more punitive responses such as boycotts of products to pressure the countries in violation to get back within the guidelines.

Organizations: Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, European Union

Geographic location: Canada, Greenland, Faroe Islands Denmark Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic

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