Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

June 27, 2016 13:05 ET

Canada Combats Illegal Fishing on the High Seas of the North Pacific Ocean

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - June 27, 2016) - Illegal fishing on the high seas is a serious threat to the world's marine resources and costs the world economy as much as $23 billion a year. Canada and its international partners have joined forces again this year as part of Operation Driftnet to combat this destructive activity. This international enforcement initiative of the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission is also complemented by the enforcement activities of the United States, South Korea, Russia and Japan.

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, and the Honourable Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, today announced that Operation Driftnet 2016 has concluded another successful enforcement initiative to protect marine resources in the North Pacific Ocean.

The 2016 operation, which took place from June 3 to 26, 2016, was coordinated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada personnel from British Columbia and the Canadian Armed Forces, with support from the United States Coast Guard out of Juneau, Alaska. Operation Driftnet patrols are also made possible thanks to the support of the Government of Japan, which allows a Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora aircraft to operate out of the civilian airfield in Hakadote, Japan, facilitating longer and more efficient aerial surveillance.

Operation Driftnet uses long range aerial surveillance supported satellite imaging technology, such as Canada's Radarsat-2. The Aurora aircraft from 19 Wing Comox is uniquely equipped to effectively search vast areas such as the North Pacific Ocean. The extended patrol flights took place beyond our 200-mile borders in a "high threat" zone. Over the duration of the mission, 11 flights and 120 surveillance hours were logged in the high threat area of the North Pacific.

Since its inception in 1993, Operation Driftnet has helped to decrease illegal fishing in the international waters of the North Pacific. From 2001 to the conclusion of this year's operation, four vessels have been apprehended. Operation Driftnet is clearly proving to be an effective deterrent to illegal fishing.


"Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing on the high seas is everyone's problem and we all need to work together to eliminate it. I am proud of Canada's ongoing efforts to prevent illegal fishing activity and deter this irresponsible and criminal practice."

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

"Operation Driftnet is an important component of Canada's contribution to the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission. The Department of National Defence is committed to our federal partners in this initiative against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activity, as well as to the protection of Canadians and their interests."

The Honourable Harjit Sajjan, Defence Minister

Quick Facts

  • Experts estimate that approximately 30% of total global fish catches are derived from illegal fishing.
  • A driftnet can span more than 2.5 km and indiscriminately scoops up anything in its path, leaving untold environmental damage in its wake.
  • The United Nations banned large-scale high seas driftnets in 1992.
  • Canada and the European Union recently signed a Joint Statement between Canada and the European Union on Efforts to Combat Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing, strengthening our shared resolve of eliminating this destructive and criminal activity.

Associated Links

Operation High Seas Driftnet

North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission


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Contact Information

  • Media Relations
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada

    Patricia Bell
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada

    Media Relations
    Department of National Defence
    Toll-Free: 1-866-377-0811

    Jordan Owens
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister
    of National Defence