Aerial Surveillance Patrols Curb Illegal Fishing in North Pacific

    VANCOUVER, Aug. 9 /CNW/ - Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) fishery
officers aboard a Canadian Air Force Aurora long-range aircraft carried out
patrols in June to deter illegal, unregulated or unreported (IUU) fishing in
the North Pacific. The flight was the first of a series of activities planned
for this year by DFO, which, working together with Japan, Korea, China, Russia
and the United States, has developed an integrated patrol plan to monitor the
North Pacific this season.
    "IUU fishing is a global problem that demands global action," said the
Honourable Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. "Protecting the
fisheries resource, and stopping illegal fishing activity in the North
Pacific, is a shared responsibility."
    In addition to DFO fishery officers and its Canadian Air Force crew, the
407 Maritime Patrol Squadron aircraft, based out of 19 Wing Comox, carried
fishery enforcement agents from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA). The Canadian and U.S. officers flew aboard the aircraft
to positively identify IUU fishing activities and to facilitate coordination
of follow-up actions that might be required to enforce international fishery
    Flying out of Shemya Island, Alaska, the officers were part of a joint
DFO-Department of National Defence (DND) operation named Operation Driftnet,
in search of IUU fishing activity, in particular high seas driftnet (HSDN)
fishing. HSDN vessels target species such as salmon, albacore and flying squid
with nets extending up to 40 kilometres in length. In addition to the fish
they harvest illegally, there is often a significant by-catch of other
species, including seabirds and marine mammals. Driftnets lost at-sea often
continue to fish for years in a phenomenon known as "ghost fishing", further
depleting valuable fish stocks.
    During this recent patrol, three vessels of interest were sighted in the
eastern Pacific. The sighting information has been shared with the
international community. Russian officials have confirmed that one of the
vessels was properly licensed and was carrying out scientific research; the
remaining two vessels are still under investigation.
    Operation Driftnet patrols began in 1993 after the United Nations imposed
a moratorium on large-scale HSDN fishing and banned nets over 2.5 kilometres
in length. Originally there were four Pacific nations involved (the United
States, Russia, Japan and Canada); then South Korea joined in 2003; and China
became involved in 2006.
    The Government of Canada continues to protect vulnerable fish stocks in
the open ocean. Due in part to information gathered by the patrols, 59 vessels
have so far been implicated in IUU fishing. In 2006 alone, Aurora patrols
spotted more than 20 squid jiggers fishing with illegal nets. A number of
these incidents remain under investigation, however, China apprehended one
vessel. The company was fined, the vessel forfeited, and the captain has had
his fishing privileges suspended.
    Monitoring and surveillance is an important part of Canada's strategy to
combat illegal fishing activities on the high seas. The strategy also features
enhanced diplomatic and advocacy activities, and working in cooperation with
international partners to improve the way high seas fisheries are managed

For further information:

For further information: Michelle Imbeau, Communications Advisor,
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region, (604) 666-2872

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