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Canada launches international program to track illegal fishing using satellite technology

Christian Fernsby |
Fisheries and Oceans Canada has launched a new program in collaboration with the Department of National Defence, Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science, Global Affairs Canada, and MDA to detect vessels engaging in IUU fishing, also known as “dark vessels”.

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Topics: CANADA   

The $7 million Dark Vessel Detection program uses satellite technology to locate and track vessels whose location transmitting devices have been switched off, sometimes in an attempt to evade monitoring, control and surveillance.

The program will provide state-of-the-art satellite data and analysis to small island nations and coastal states around the world where IUU fishing has a major impact on local economies, food security and the health of fish stocks. One major concern for the government is the impact IUU fishing has on food security, where fish resources of vulnerable coastal communities are threatened by the illegal fishing, affecting millions of people.

Identifying “dark” vessels from above will now allow these small island nations to focus their investigations and maximize their enforcement effort to protect their fish stocks.

Program partners include the Forum Fisheries Agency (which represents 15 small island nations in the Pacific region), and the Ecuadorian Maritime Authority, National Directorate of Aquatic Spaces (which is in charge of surveillance and control in the Ecuadorian maritime domain).

In December 2020, Canadian and Ecuadorian officials signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize their partnership, and enhance surveillance around the Galapagos Islands – a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Dark Vessel Detection program is part of the $11.6 million in funding for Canada’s commitments to ocean health announced at the 2018 G7 ministerial meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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