Canadian Fishery Officers Unearth 3,000 Illegally Held Shark Fins
Fishery officers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) have successfully completed their inaugural Canadian-led high seas patrol aimed at detecting and deterring illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities in the North-Pacific region. This area is of crucial significance for Canada's Indo-Pacific Strategy and its commitment to international obligations.
Known as "Operation North Pacific Guard," this annual, multinational effort involved coordinating fisheries enforcement measures to safeguard worldwide fish stocks. Canada's efforts included utilising ships, satellites, and aerial surveillance, with support from the Canadian Coast Guard, personnel from the United States Coast Guard (USCG), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Over the course of two months, officers and support personnel patrolled more than 12,000 nautical miles aboard the chartered vessel, the Atlantic Condor, which is equivalent to travelling halfway around the globe. The primary objective of this mission was to identify illegal high-seas driftnets, combat illegal fishing activities, and inspect fishing vessels in accordance with international regulations to ensure compliance with fisheries laws.
The boarding team engaged with over 400 crew members from various nations on their vessels. During inspections on these international vessels, Canadian fishery officers unearth 3,000 Illegally held, possessed or stored shark fins, including those from threatened species like the oceanic whitetip shark. Additionally, they documented incidents of marine pollution and other violations.
Throughout the mission, officers also collected environmental data and water samples to enhance Canada's understanding of the high seas environment, including the migratory patterns of species of interest, such as Pacific salmon.
Canada is now collaborating with the relevant flag states to facilitate further investigations and sanctions against offending vessels, including providing evidence for 58 violations identified during these patrols.
Operation North Pacific Guard remains an integral part of Canada's broader commitment to safeguard Canadian fish stocks and global marine ecosystems.