Canadian fishery officers have now completed their participation in Operation North Pacific Guard, the annual international law enforcement operation on the high seas of the North Pacific, alongside the United States, South Korea and Japan.
Fishery officers and air crew were deployed to Hokkaido in northern Japan, where they conducted daily patrols over the Northwest Pacific, a region known for its density of high seas fishing activity. Fishery officers were also deployed to the US Coast Guard Cutter Munro from which they boarded and inspected fishing vessels.
This year, Canada flew 29 patrols over 247 hours, and covered a total of 44,200 nautical miles as part of Operation North Pacific Guard.
Canadian officers discovered incidents of sharks being caught and kept and garbage pollution, and noted a large number of vessels with improper identification markings. During vessel inspections, fishery officers also reported many cases of harvesters failing to maintain proper catch records – a key element used to calculate sustainable harvest limits.
‘IUU fishing cheats people living in coastal communities out of hard-earned income. It causes severe harm to aquatic ecosystems and fish stocks, like wild Pacific salmon. Hard-working, law-abiding harvesters work to protect oceans and ensure sustainable fisheries here in Canada and around the world. We will continue working with our international and non-governmental partners to combat these harmful practices that affect global food security and fish sustainability,’ said Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Joyce Murray.
This December will mark the 30th anniversary of the United Nations ban of high seas driftnets. High seas driftnets are considered a threat to Canadian migratory fish stocks such as Pacific salmon.
Joint operations such as Operation North Pacific Guard are critical to monitor and enforce these types of bans, to protect marine ecosystems and migratory fish stocks.
‘We are grateful to Japan for their assistance in facilitating the movement of equipment and personnel in support of Operation North Pacific Guard. Canada and Japan have much to gain by increasing our interoperability, as we work together to uphold the rule of law,’ commented Canada’s ambassador to Japan Ian G. McKay.
‘Our two countries are committed to ongoing cooperation in countering illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, as set out in the Canada-Japan Action Plan for contributing to a free and open Indo-Pacific region, announced last month by our respective Ministers of Foreign Affairs.’