North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission



The North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC) is an international inter-governmental organization established by the Convention for the Conservation of Anadromous Stocks in the North Pacific Ocean. The Convention was signed on February 11, 1992, and took effect on February 16, 1993. The member countries are Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America.

As defined in the Convention, the primary objective of the NPAFC is to promote the conservation of anadromous stocks in the Convention Area. The Convention Area is the international waters of the North Pacific Ocean and its adjacent seas north of 33° North beyond the 200-mile zones (exclusive economic zones) of the coastal States.

For the purposes of NPAFC, anadromous fish include Pacific salmon and steelhead trout. Anadromous stocks are the stocks of these species that migrate into the Convention Area.

Pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha)
Chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)
Sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)
Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch)
Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)
Cherry salmon (Oncorhynchus masou)
Steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

In the Convention Area, NPAFC anadromous fish Conservation Measures are the following:

    • Prohibiting directed fishing for anadromous fish (with the exception of scientifically reviewed and approved research fishing)
    • Reducing to the maximum extent possible the incidental taking of anadromous fish
    • Prohibiting retention of anadromous fish on board a fishing vessel that has taken anadromous fish incidentally while fishing for other species

Almost all Pacific salmon and steelhead trout in the Convention Area originate in the waters of NPAFC member countries. Each member has the primary interest in and responsibility for harvest and conservation of their own anadromous stocks. The member countries manage their harvest strategies within their 200-mile limit and conduct conservation actions to sustain their stocks. Prohibition of directed fishing and forbidding retention of anadromous fish in the NPAFC Convention Area allows Pacific salmon and steelhead to return to the home waters of the member country, where the benefits of each member’s investments in harvest management and conservation can be enjoyed.

To promote conservation and sustainability of anadromous stocks, NPAFC conducts regular meetings and communications in the areas of fisheries enforcement and scientific research.

Fisheries Enforcement

To enforce the conservation measures and detect and deter IUU (illegal, unreported, unregulated) fishing vessels in the Convention Area, member countries cooperate and exchange information on their respective enforcement plans, coordinate patrol scheduling, conduct joint ship patrols, and arrange personnel exchanges for air and sea patrols. All necessary measures are taken by each member to ensure its nationals and fishing vessels flying its flag comply with the provisions of the Convention, and each member has the authority to board, inspect, and detain fishing vessels of the other members found operating in violation of the Convention. The Parties cooperate in the exchange of information on any violation of the provisions of the Convention and on any enforcement actions taken.

Scientific Research

The Convention authorizes fishing for anadromous fish in the Convention Area for scientific purposes under national and joint research programs approved by the NPAFC. The taking of anadromous fish for scientific purposes must be consistent with the needs of the research program and provisions of the Convention and be reported to the Commission. Scientific research is conducted under the Science Plan, which may include investigations on species ecologically related to anadromous stocks. The member countries cooperate in collecting, reporting, and exchanging biostatistical data, biological samples, fisheries data, and organizing scientific communications, such as seminars, workshops, exchanges of scientific personnel, and publications. The members provide catch, enhancement, and other technical information and material pertaining to areas adjacent to the Convention Area from which anadromous stocks migrate into the Convention Area.