Canada leading annual mission to combat IUU fishing in North Pacific for first time

The patrol vessel that Canada will use in the North Pacific ocean.

Canada is leading a new mission in the North Pacific Ocean to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing as part of its Indo-Pacific Strategy.

Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) said Canadian fishery officers – who are leading the annual mission for the first time will conduct patrols in the Indo-Pacific, with officers conducting patrols, boardings, and inspection operations. The officers will also collect data to increase scientific understanding of the high seas environment, such as understanding the migration range of species like Pacific salmon.

Funding for the patrols, DFO said, is partially coming from the Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative. DFO said it is committing more than CAD 46 million (USD 34 million, EUR 31 million) over the next five years to combat IUU in the North Pacific, including the deployment of a high-seas patrol vessel. One main goal of the action is to enforce a United Nations ban on high seas driftnets targeting salmon.

“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. As fish are not bound by borders, we must take decisive action to safeguard these species,” Canada Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard Joyce Murray said. “This high seas enforcement operation will assist in the rebuilding efforts we are undertaking domestically.”

For the latest mission, the DFO said it has contracted Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada-based Atlantic Towing Limited – a provider of tug services, coastal towing, and other vessel support – to provide a vessel for the operation. The mission which will be underway until the fall, will also involve the Canadian Coast Guard and the United States Coast Guard.

This isn’t the first time that Canada has participated in maritime surveillance operations in the North Pacific. Canadian fishery officers, the DFO said, have taken part in the annual Operation North Pacific Guard on board U.S. Coast Guard vessels since 2019.

Last year, Canadian officers participated in Operation North Pacific Guard, uncovering instances of illegal fishing and a number of cases where vessels failed to maintain proper catch records.  

Photo courtesy of Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans


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