The North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission


Upcoming events:

Large Whale Assessment Working Group

Welcome to the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission - NAMMCO


NAMMCO is an international regional body for cooperation on the conservation, management and study of marine mammals in the North Atlantic.

The members of NAMMCO — Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland and Norway — are committed to sustainable and responsible use of all living marine resources, including marine mammals.

The regional cooperation under NAMMCO aims at strengthening and further developing effective conservation and management measures for marine mammals. Taking into account the rights and needs of coastal communities to make a sustainable living from what the sea can provide, such measures should be based on the best available scientific evidence and user knowledge and take into account the complexity and vulnerability of the marine ecosystem.

The NAMMCO Agreement focuses on consolidating and advancing scientific knowledge of the North Atlantic marine ecosystem as a whole, and to understanding better the role of marine mammals in this system.

A NAMMCO breakout session at Arctic Circle 2016

Reykjavík, Harpa, Nordurljós, Saturday 8 October

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Sustainable Marine Resources: a Piece of the Blue Economy Puzzle in the Arctic?

The session attempted to bring out the main facts regarding the biology, management and international commitments regarding marine mammal resources in the North. A special focus was on the economic and cultural importance of these resources, with the consequences of the EU seal ban for the livelihood of Greenlandic communities. 

Conclusion of the panel discussion:

- The right to the sustainable utilisation of living marine resources, including marine mammals, are at the core of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the law of the Sea and the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development: Sustainability was the new deal, as well as Rio+20 summit.

- The science is there for permitting the sustainable management of marine mammal resources, if the will and the necessary scientific monitoring are there, which is the case in NAMMCO Countries.

- The stocks exploited by NAMMCO parties can support the present level of removals - see the IWC webpage for fin, humpback, bowhead and minke whales for example.

- The EU seal ban has considerable negative consequences on the small communities in Greenland, both familial, societal and economic.

The difficulty resides in conveying the message to the urbanised world, so sustainable and responsible hunting communities are not longer demonised and sustainable, local whaling and sealing are perceived as what they are: a green, resource-efficient, low-carbon and ecologically responsible way of acquiring food and supporting food security, that in total agreement with the concept of Blue economy.

 (The presentation of the three speakers can be accessed below)


The international commitments permitting and ensuring the sustainable and responsible use of marine resources will be reviewed as well as the advances in management and monitoring methodologies which permit the science-based approach to replace decades of over-exploitation by sustainable exploitation. The Greenlandic example will illustrate the societal and economical price to coastal communities of not being able to exploit marine resources at hands. The session will open to the question of whether we are not at the time when the sustainable use of marine mammals is possible and one piece of the Blue Economy puzzle, thus accommodating the cultural and economic needs of the people in the North with our all willingness of preserving and restoring the marine ecosystem.

Speakers and panelists:

  • Ásta Einarsdóttir, Chair of NAMMCO, Senior Legal Expert; Ministry of Industries and Innovation, Iceland: Introduction to NAMMCO
  • Grímur Valdimarsson, Senior Advisor, Ministry of Industries and Innovation, Iceland: The Use of Living Marine Resources: The Rules of the Game. - Presentation here
  • Jóhann Sigurjónsson, Special Envoy on Ocean Affairs, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Iceland: Science-based Use of Living Marine Resources. - Presentation here
  • Ditte H. Sorknæs, Chief Executive Officer, Great Greenland: The Economical and Societal Consequences of Trade Barriers on Inuit Communities. - Presentation here
  • Amalie Jessen, Head of Department, Greenlandic Ministry of Fisheries, Hunting and Agriculture 
  • Jóannes V. Hansen, Head of Section, Foreign Service, Faroese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade


  • Martin Breum, Journalist and author


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