During a two-month mission in the North Pacific Ocean, a multinational team led by Canada discovered 3,000 illegal shark fins and widespread fishery violations. The mission, known as Operation North Pacific Guard, aimed to find illegal high seas driftnets, illegal fishing activity, and ensure compliance with fisheries regulations. The team patrolled over 12,000 nautical miles, using ocean patrols, satellite and air surveillance, and interacting with over 400 crew members from different nations. The discovery of 3,000 shark fins indicates that illegal shark finning is still a significant issue, with some fins coming from threatened species.
In addition to uncovering illegal shark fins, the team also inspected over 400 fishing vessels and found 58 violations. Canada is now working with the appropriate flag states to support further investigations and sanction the offending vessels. The mission also documented incidents of marine pollution and other violations. Throughout the mission, environmental data and water samples were collected to improve understanding of the high seas environment and species migration patterns.
The Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative (PSSI) financed the patrol, aiming to enhance conservation, protection, and enforcement efforts for Canada’s Pacific salmon stocks. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has committed over US$35 million over the next five years to combat illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing in the North Pacific. The annual mission, previously led by the U.S., has been instrumental in enforcing the United Nations Ban on High Seas Driftnets and ensuring compliance with regulations against IUU fishing.
IUU fishing remains a thriving trade that negatively impacts fish stocks and marine ecosystems globally. It is estimated to account for around 30 percent of all fishing activity, resulting in as much as 26 million tonnes of fish and costing the global economy over US$18 billion annually. Canada plays a leading role in protecting fish stocks and combating marine ecosystem destruction, aiming to maintain sustainable fisheries worldwide.
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