Canadian at-sea patrols and inspections of foreign fishing vessels off N.L. [Newfoundland] coast drop by 50%
Ottawa says compliance better, number of violations down; plans proposal to curb repeat offenders
There has been a sharp drop in the number of Canadian ships and inspectors on the water monitoring and policing potential violations by foreign fishing vessels off Newfoundland.
An internal Department of Fisheries and Oceans report, obtained by CBC News through access to information, suggests that Harper-era budget cuts and the aging state of the coast guard fleet are contributing factors to the decline.
“An analysis of program data identified that patrol days and at-sea inspections in the NAFO [Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization] regulatory area have decreased by 50 per cent between 2011 and 2015,” an internal DFO report published in March noted.
Fisheries and Oceans officials told CBC News this week there are reasons for the reduction.
There are now fewer foreign ships fishing in international waters outside Canada’s 200-mile territorial limit, and they are subject to more stringent reporting requirements. That, according to DFO, means fewer ships are necessary to monitor them.
“We were comfortable making the decision back in 2012 to reduce our numbers of inspections, based on the fact that we had seen better compliance, smaller number of vessels,” said Allan MacLean, director general of the conservation and protection program at DFO…
Aging ships highlighted
In addition to the 2012 budget cuts, the internal DFO evaluation of its compliance and enforcement program also cited aging ships as an issue.
“Other explanations offered by key informants included there being a number of (coast guard) vessels that were on vessel life extension, refit or maintenance,” the report noted.
A separate Transport Canada report recently tabled in the House of Commons also raised concerns about the state of the coast guard fleet, saying it “urgently requires renewal [see first link at start of this post].”..
One hopes the DFO response in the story above is not just the usual government spin. Related: