Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

November 21, 2007 09:00 ET

Minister Hearn Celebrates World Fisheries Day 2007: Highlights Canada's Success at Stopping Illegal Fishing in NAFO Waters

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 21, 2007) - On the occasion of World Fisheries Day, the Honourable Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, reflected on Canada's connection and responsibility to the international governance of global fish stocks to ensure prosperous coastal communities and a sustainable source of the world's protein.

In particular, Minister Hearn marked this special day for fishing nations by noting the steep decline of serious illegal fishing incidents in Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) waters since taking office in 2006.

"Stopping foreign vessels from overfishing was a key priority for me when I assumed office," said Minister Hearn. "We saw improvement in our first year in government, but with all our NAFO reforms now coming into play, we have only had one serious incident in NAFO waters this year. By any measure, this is remarkable progress, and shows Canada's vigilant enforcement is working."

So far in 2007 there have only been 11 citations in the NAFO Regulatory Area, which is the lowest amount in a decade. The most significant statistic, however, is the number of serious infringements. Serious infringements have declined from 13 in 2005 to seven in 2006, to only one to date this year.

NAFO began distinguishing 'serious vs. non-serious infringements' in 2004. The designation is reserved for the worst offences that threaten stocks the most, such as misreporting catches, fishing directly for species under moratoria or using illegal net liners to catch fish that are too small. Interfering with the work of inspectors is another serious offence. Non-serious infringements are violations of a lesser degree, such as failing to maintain an accurate stowage plan or a certified vessel capacity plan.

New rules established in NAFO under the leadership of Canada mean vessels that break the rules are severely punished, including being sent back to shore immediately for an inspection. Fines, suspensions and even revoking fishing licences are additional actions that can be taken.

"The one vessel that decided to break the rules this year was caught back in May," said Minister Hearn. "With the full cooperation of the Spanish government, this vessel was ordered back to port and kept there to be thoroughly inspected. That's a hit to their bottom line that will serve as an example to other captains who might try to profit through illegal fishing."

"Our government promised to clean up NAFO and take on the custodial management of the NAFO regulatory area," said Minister Hearn. "Through our hard work and perseverance, we have done just that."

"While disappointing outcomes of recent meetings of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas show that there continues to be much work to be done to protect world fish stocks, on World Fisheries Day, Canadians have a lot to celebrate as we continue to play a leading role in ending illegal fishing on the high seas."

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Contact Information

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Phil Jenkins
    Media Relations
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Steve Outhouse
    Office of the Minister
    Director of Communications