Canadian fishery officers take part in patrol targeting illegal fishing in Pacific Ocean
It impacts food security, affecting millions of people, including many vulnerable coastal communities.
In the first of several collaborations with Small Island Developing States in 2019, fishery officers boarded a U.S. Coast Guard vessel Mellon in Honolulu, Hawaii and a Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora patrol aircraft in Nadi, Fiji, in January for a two-week long patrol in the Pacific Ocean.
Working with the Department of National Defence and the United States Coast Guard, they patrolled around Fiji and the island nations of Kiribati, Tokelau, Vanuatu, and Tuvalu.
IUU fishing is of particular concern in this area as several Small Island Developing States have some of the most vulnerable waters for IUU fishing, and need support from other nations.
Over the course of the patrol, fishery officers were part of seven reconnaissance flights by the Aurora, to provide a visible surveillance presence and to help enforce the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission's (WCPFC) conservation measures.
The Aurora detected and documented 101 fishing vessels during the mission, providing critical data to the U.S.
Coast Guard patrol and the Forum Fisheries Agency, which coordinates enforcement amongst the island nations.
The Canadian aircraft also patrolled the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, a UNESCO world heritage site where fishing is banned.
The Aurora was able to ensure the area was clear of fishing activity during its patrol.
Fishery officers aboard the U.S. Coast Guard vessel Mellon patrolled over 2,875 square kilometres within the WCPFC convention area.
They were also part of the enforcement team that boarded two vessels: one fishing vessel and one fuel supply ship known as a bunkering vessel. ■