Canada's High Seas Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Activities

As a member of several regional fisheries management organizations, Canada participates in activities to monitor and identify illegal and possible illegal fishing activities within the regional fisheries management organization's convention areas. A variety of methods are used to monitor fishing activity on the high seas, including aerial surveillance, at-sea and port inspections, international observers, satellite (RADARSAT II) and vessel monitoring systems.

In the Atlantic Ocean, Canada is active in monitoring, control and surveillance efforts undertaken by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. In the Pacific Ocean, Canada contributes to efforts by members of the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission to halt illegal driftnet fishing. In addition, Canada is an active member of Interpol's Fisheries Crime Working Group.

Aerial surveillance is an effective tool for monitoring fishing activities over a large geographical area. Trained fisheries officers collect information on all vessels sighted, including photographs and details of activity of fishing vessels and non-fishing (commercial) vessels. If illegal activity is suspected, this information is provided to authorities on the water who can investigate the situation.

Canada invests $30 million annually for aerial surveillance and at-sea inspection patrols in the NAFO Regulatory Area, which includes approximately 775,000 square nautical miles of fishable grounds outside the 200-mile limits of coastal States in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean.

Canada also supports efforts to monitor fishing activity in the NPAFC Convention Area, a four-million-square-kilometre expanse of the North Pacific, as part of an initiative known as Operation Driftnet. Fishery officers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada work with the Canadian Forces to coordinate aerial surveillance of the region using the CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft.

At-sea and port inspections ensure that vessels have the appropriate licences to fish in a specific area and monitor the type and quantity of fish found aboard vessels. Inspections verify that the information collected matches what is recorded in the vessel's logbook. Inspectors also look at gear aboard the vessel, to ensure it conforms with regulations for the targeted fishery.

In the NAFO Regulatory Area, inspections by Canada are carried out by Fishery Officers, acting in their roles as NAFO inspectors and operating aboard Canadian Coast Guard vessels. NAFO inspectors receive additional support from Canadian Forces naval vessels. Canada's at-sea patrol presence includes two dedicated Coast Guard vessels and 21 offshore enforcement officers.

Independent and impartial observers are required aboard all vessels fishing in the NAFO Regulatory Area, and they are an important part of many other high seas fisheries. Observers monitor catch, reporting practices and gear use, and conduct biological sampling and experiments.

Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) enable satellite tracking of vessels and provide detailed information on vessel name and location. Use of VMS is mandatory for all vessels fishing in the NAFO Regulatory Area. Canada has developed software to forensically analyze VMS data to provide "smart" information to patrol vessels/aircrafts about high risk non-compliant fishing vessels.