The international fight against illegal fishing on the high seas of the North Pacific Ocean continues

News Release

Ottawa, Ontario – Costing the world economy as much as $23 billion a year, illegal fishing on the high seas is a serious threat to the world’s marine resources. That is why Canada is proud to announce that we have again contributed to important multinational fisheries enforcement activities in the North Pacific Ocean to protect high seas fish stocks from irresponsible and criminal fishing activity. It is through committed partnerships within the international community that we can turn the tide on criminals and protect our marine ecosystems, infrastructure and jobs for future generations.

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, and the Honourable Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, today announced that Operation Driftnet 2017 has concluded another successful enforcement initiative to protect marine resources in the North Pacific Ocean.

This year’s operation, which took place from July 5 to 29, 2017, was once again coordinated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada fishery officers from British Columbia and the Canadian Armed Forces with support from the United States Coast Guard out of Juneau, Alaska.

A CP-140 Aurora, the Royal Canadian Air Force’s long-range maritime patrol aircraft, was stationed at Hakodate Airport, on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido. This location enabled Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) officers flying on the CP-140 to conduct surveillance patrols over the high-threat zone which is beyond 322 kilometres from shore. Using the Aurora's enhanced electronic sensor suite, the Fishery officers and the Aurora sensor operators look for signs of illegal fishing and activity, and gather imagery for use as evidence in enforcement action.

Since its inception in 1993, Operation DRIFTNET has helped to decrease illegal fishing in the international waters of the North Pacific Ocean. It is complemented by the enforcement activities of the United States, South Korea, Russia and Japan.


“I am proud of Canada’s ongoing international efforts to prevent and deter illegal fishing on the high seas. Maintaining sustainable fisheries is not something we can leave to chance. Canada takes a stand against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and Operation Driftnet is a prime example of international collaboration at its best. Operations like this help protect our oceans and ensure that our global marine resources are protected for future generations.”

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“Canada’s Department of National Defence is committed to working with federal agencies and international partners against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activity. Operation DRIFTNET is one piece of Canada's contribution to the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission and its multinational efforts to control this destructive practice.”

The Honourable Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence

Quick Facts

  • Experts estimate that approximately 30% of total global fish catches are derived from illegal fishing.

  • A driftnet can span more than 2.5 km and indiscriminately scoops up anything in its path, leaving untold environmental damage in its wake.

  • The United Nations banned large-scale high seas driftnets in 1993.

Associated Links


Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Laura Gareau
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Media Relations
Department of National Defence
Phone: 613-996-2353
Toll-Free: 1-866-377-0811

Jordan Owens
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of National Defence

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