Canada Leads Mission to Combat Illegal Fishing in North Pacific

Canadian fishery officers are leading their first mission in the Indo-Pacific, during which, officers are conducting patrols—including high seas boardings and inspection operations—as well as to ensure compliance with regulations and detect illegal and unreported catch.

Officers are to also collect scientific data to inform an understanding of the high seas environment, including the migration range of species of interest, like Pacific salmon, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the federal institution responsible for safeguarding Canada’s waters and managing the country’s fisheries and oceans resources.

DFO has contracted Atlantic Towing, a company that specializes in diverse marine services including port tug services and coastal towing to provide a vessel for the operation, which is expected to last until this fall.

“This joint patrol will contribute to a multi-national effort known as Operation North Pacific Guard, involving officers from DFO’s Conservation and Protection program, along with personnel from the Canadian Coast Guard and the United States Coast Guard,” Fisheries and Oceans Canada said in a July 24 statement.

Funding from the national Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative (PSSI) is supporting the mission to enhance conservation, protection and enforcement efforts in high-risk areas for Canada’s Pacific salmon stocks.

The PSSI, according to the Government of Canada, guides a strategic, coordinated “long term response to salmon enhancement, conservation and other issues, rooted in collaborative action, to stabilize and restore Pacific salmon and salmon habitat for the people, communities and ecosystems that depend upon their sustainability.”

DFO has said that as part of the PSSI, it’s committing more than $46 million over the next five years to combat IUU fishing in the North Pacific, including this deployment of a high-seas patrol vessel in the region.

“Canada will continue to play an important role in the fight against marine ecosystem destruction and declining fish stocks caused by IUU fishing, like Pacific salmon,” DFO said in a statement.

“Pacific salmon is vital to the food security, cultures, and economies of numerous First Nations, as well as the livelihoods of thousands of workers in rural and coastal communities in British Columbia and Yukon,” Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Joyce Murray said.

“As fish are not bound by borders, we must take decisive action to safeguard these species. This high seas enforcement operation will assist in the rebuilding efforts we are undertaking domestically,” she added.