April 5, 2017: NAMMCO 25 – The birth of an agreement

Nuuk, April 5, 2017 – In four days, on Sunday 9th April 2017, NAMMCO will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the signature of the Agreement on Research, Conservation and Management of Marine Mammals in the North Atlantic establishing the organisation.

The Agreement to establish NAMMCO was signed in Nuuk, Greenland, on 9 April 1992 by the Ministers of Fisheries of the current members of the Commission: the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland and Norway. The Agreement entered into force 90 days later on 8 July 1992. The Agreement focuses on modern approaches to the study of the marine ecosystem as a whole, and to understanding better the role of marine mammals in this system.

NAMMCO had its beginning in an earlier international conference on marine mammals, first held in Reykjavík in 1988 and also attended by Canada, Japan and Russia. At the 1990 meeting of the conference in Tromsø, a memorandum of understanding was signed by the four Nordic North Atlantic countries to establish an informal North Atlantic Committee for Cooperation on Research on Marine Mammals (NAC). The parties to NAC agreed to work towards the development of mechanisms to ensure the conservation and management of marine mammals. From this process evolved NAMMCO.

NAMMCO represented a new forum for cooperation on the conservation and science-based management of marine mammals and their sustainable use. It provided an alternative to the inability of the International Whaling Commission to agree on rational, science-based management of large cetaceans (baleen and sperm whales).

NAMMCO also filled the gap in conservation and management for smaller whales, seals and walrus in the region, which had not previously been covered by any international agreements.

Many people were involved in the establishment of NAMMCO– both the wording of the agreement as such, then the establishment of the organisation. Some of the many faces behind NAMMCO 1992 includes Kjartan Hoydal, Kate Sanderson, Dorete Bloch and Justines Olsen (Faroe Islands); Einar Lemche, Amalie Jessen, Jens Paulsen and Finn Kapel (Greenland); Halldór Árnason, Guðmundur Eiriksson, Jóhann Sigurjónsson and Kristian Loffsson (Iceland); Stein Owe, Halvard P. Johansen, Hild Ynnesdal, Sidsel Grønvik and Egil Ole Øen (Norway). Some of them served as the first chairs in various committees and/or first Councilors. NAMMCO has celebrated five of these “Firsts” in a special NAMMCO 25 leaflet:

5 of the Faces behind NAMMCO 92


This is the first of stories, which will emphasize throughout this special year NAMMCO achievements, but also challenges for the future in the times of severe climate and environment changes.

Throughout this year, NAMMCO will also post profiles of the people behind the Commission in 1992 and since – the individuals who at various stages of its development, or throughout the past quarter decade, have helped to make it what it is and worked to make it better – and will help face the challenges of the future and better conserve marine mammals.


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