Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

October 28, 2005 11:21 ET

DFO: Collaborative Science Activities May Improve Abundance and Migration Timing Forecasts of Pacific Salmon Stocks

SEOGWIPO, KOREA--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 28, 2005) - Scientific research conducted by the member countries of the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC) may improve Canada's ability to forecast the abundance and migration timing of Pacific salmon stocks, said Geoff Regan, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

"Canada is working closely with our North Pacific partners to study the factors affecting the survival of salmon stocks in ocean environments, including climate change," said Minister Regan. "This research may help us better understand the unpredictability of salmon stocks, such as Fraser River sockeye - and improve our ability to manage, conserve, and rebuild this precious resource."

The annual meeting of the NPAFC was held this week in Seogwipo, Korea. The meeting is an opportunity for members to exchange information about the latest scientific research and co-ordinate new research activities. It is also an opportunity to exchange intelligence on illegal fishing activities and refine the programs that track these activities.

Key outcomes of this year's meeting include the announcement that a second international workshop for NPAFC members will be held in Japan in April 2006 to study the factors affecting the production of juvenile salmon. The Commission also announced the development of a new Integrated Information System on enforcement that allows NPAFC members to keep information about illegal or suspected vessels in the Convention Area on a closed web site.

"Directed fishing of salmon and trout in the high seas of the North Pacific is not allowed," said Minister Regan. "Member countries of the NPAFC have worked hard to enforce this rule. Through our joint efforts, we've cut illegal driftnet fishing by almost 90 per cent in this area."

Canada's role in the NPAFC monitoring and control efforts has been dubbed Operation Driftnet by the Department of National Defence. During this year's aerial patrols, two Canadian Air Force patrol aircraft repeatedly monitored a 4.1 million square kilometre area of the North Pacific in search of vessels engaged in IUU fishing.

Participation in Operation Driftnet is a key activity of Canada's strategy to combat overfishing and improve international fisheries and oceans governance. In keeping with this strategy, Canada's participation in the NPAFC annual meeting included promoting the importance of the St. John's Conference Ministerial Declaration, especially, its aims to modernize regional fisheries management organizations.

The NPAFC is responsible for the conservation and management of salmon and other anadromous fish stocks in the North Pacific Ocean and its adjacent seas, beyond the 200-mile limits of coastal States. To fulfill its mandate, the Commission promotes collaborative scientific research activities and joint enforcement of fishing restrictions.

The 2006 NPAFC annual meeting will take place in Vancouver, British Columbia. Canada's Head of Delegation, Guy Beaupre, assumed the Presidency of the Commission for 2006 and 2007.

For more information regarding Canada's strategy to combat overfishing and improve international fisheries governance, visit:

Fisheries and Oceans Canada


Canada and the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission

Under the Convention for the Conservation of Anadromous Stocks in the North Pacific Ocean, directed fishing for salmon stocks and other anadromous species in the North Pacific is not allowed in the Convention Area of the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC). Fishers are obligated to minimize the taking of these species as bycatch. Limited fishing is permitted for scientific research purposes under national and joint research programs approved by the Commission.

Anadromous fish are in freshwater sources such as rivers when they are born, migrate to the ocean to mature, and then return to freshwater to spawn. Fish stocks found in the NPAFC Convention Area include chum, coho, pink, sockeye, chinook and cherry salmon, as well as steelhead trout. The area of competence for the Commission is the waters of the North Pacific Ocean and its adjacent seas, north of 33ºN latitude beyond the 200-mile exclusive economic zones of coastal States.

The NPAFC came into force on February 16, 1993, and is based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Canada, Japan, Russia, the Republic of Korea, and the United States are all Contracting Parties to the organization. China also co-operates closely with the Commission through a boarding-ship rider agreement with the United States.

Conservation efforts by the NPAFC include the promotion of scientific study of anadromous species, and enforcement of fishing restrictions.

The scientific research conducted by NPAFC members are presently focused on: the factors influencing sea lice infestation levels; the development of an international database to signal changes in the ecosystem; and relations between climate change and carrying capacity. The results of the sea lice research will be useful to Canada's aquaculture industry when selecting salmon farm sites.

NPAFC scientific activities are also focused on understanding the factors affecting marine survival, salmon distribution, and information to improve return forecasts. This may help to improve Canada's understanding of complex issues, such as the unpredictability of Fraser River sockeye stocks. It may also help improve forecasts on abundance and migration timing of Pacific salmon stocks.

To enforce its fishing restrictions, the Commission has implemented a monitoring and control system that has cut illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fish harvesting on the high seas in the North Pacific by about 90 per cent since its peak in 1998. Each NPAFC Contracting Party has the authority to board, inspect and detain fishing vessels of the other Parties found operating in violation of the Convention. Responsibility for trying the offence and imposing penalties falls to the flag State. The penalties handed out are commensurate with the nature of the infractions.

Surveillance is a shared responsibility. Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora aircraft conduct three weeks of patrols each year as part of the enforcement effort. Suspect activity is reported to the United States Coast Guard or other appropriate agencies for interdiction. Since 1993, 54 vessels suspected of IUU fishing activities have been identified and boarded in the Convention Area. Tonnes of illegally caught fish have been seized during that time, and heavy fines have been levied against the violators.

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Contact Information

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Sophie Galarneau
    Media Relations
    (613) 990-7537
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Sujata Raisinghani
    Press Secretary, Office of the Minister
    (613) 992-3474