Ottawa, Ontario — Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing deprives the international economy of billions of dollars and undermines the livelihoods of legitimate fish harvesters, both in Canada and abroad. It impacts food security, affecting millions of people, including many vulnerable coastal communities. Combatting global IUU fishing through international partnerships is a priority identified at the G7 Leaders’ Summit in June 2018 hosted by Canada in Charlevoix, Québec, and at the first Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, which Canada co-hosted with Kenya and Japan in November 2018. That is why Canada’s fishery officers are on the front lines against IUU fishing.
In the first of several collaborations with Small Island Developing States in 2019, fishery officers boarded a U.S. Coast Guard vessel Mellon in Honolulu, Hawaii and a Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora patrol aircraft in Nadi, Fiji, in January for a two-week long patrol in the Pacific Ocean. Working with the Department of National Defence and the United States Coast Guard, they patrolled around Fiji and the island nations of Kiribati, Tokelau, Vanuatu, and Tuvalu. IUU fishing is of particular concern in this area as several Small Island Developing States have some of the most vulnerable waters for IUU fishing, and need support from other nations.
Over the course of the patrol, fishery officers were part of seven reconnaissance flights by the Aurora, to provide a visible surveillance presence and to help enforce the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission’s (WCPFC) conservation measures. The Aurora detected and documented 101 fishing vessels during the mission, providing critical data to the U.S. Coast Guard patrol and the Forum Fisheries Agency, which coordinates enforcement amongst the island nations. The Canadian aircraft also patrolled the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, a UNESCO world heritage site where fishing is banned. The Aurora was able to ensure the area was clear of fishing activity during its patrol.
Fishery officers aboard the U.S. Coast Guard vessel Mellon patrolled over 2,875 square kilometres within the WCPFC convention area. They were also part of the enforcement team that boarded two vessels: one fishing vessel and one fuel supply ship known as a bunkering vessel.
These recent patrols were part of Canada’s international commitment to support fisheries on the high seas and tackle IUU fishing, which is a major contributor to declining fish stocks and marine habitat destruction around the world.
“Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing threatens food security, impacts the sustainability of fisheries, and causes irreparable damage to marine and freshwater ecosystems across the globe. Partnerships, like this one with Canada’s Department of National Defence and the United States Coast Guard , are the key to tackling IUU fishing that threatens many vulnerable coastal communities. We will continue to work with other countries and assist small island developing states in combating IUU fishing to increase security and protect the health of fish stocks around the world.”
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“The U.S. Coast Guard and the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans have a long history of working together to ensure the viability of fish stocks off North America. Working with experts from Canada and regional leaders like Fiji is vital to ensuring food security and the rule of law in Oceania. Working together we are helping to ensure a more secure, free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Capt. Robert Hendrickson, Chief of Response for Coast Guard 14th District, United States Coast Guard
About the Mission:
The Phoenix Islands are one of the world’s largest marine protected areas, and one of the world’s last coral ecosystems.
Canada further supported the mission by providing its partners with satellite surveillance data from Canada’s RADARSAT-2, a marine surveillance satellite in orbit since 2007.
The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating two potential violations of transhipment rules and vessel identification requirements onboard the vessels inspected during the mission.
About Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing:
It is estimated that IUU fishing accounts for about 30 per cent of all fishing activity worldwide, representing up to 26 million tonnes of fish caught annually, valued at between $10 to $23 billion USD.
IUU fishing is often linked to human trafficking, forced labour and other unacceptable forms of work in the fishing sector.
The International Day for the Fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing is June 5.
In September 2018 the Minister formally supported Global Fishing Watch’s work in combatting illegal fishing.