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Faroese longliner accused six times within year of illegal fishing proves NAFO useless: SEA-NL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, Aug. 12, 2022

The Faroese longliner Bordoyarnes has been cited six times since September, 2021 by DFO Fishery Officers for violations while fishing for halibut on the tail of the Grand Banks outside Canada's 200-mile limit. Five of the inspections happened while the ship was offloading in Bay Roberts.

Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) says the fact a Faroese longliner was allowed to return fishing after being accused on six separate occasions within the past year of serious violations proves, yet again, the enforcement regime outside Canadian waters is a horrible joke.

“The joke is on Newfoundland and Labrador when our fishing industry pays the biggest price for Ottawa’s failure to address decades of foreign overfishing,” says Ryan Cleary, SEA-NL’s Executive Director. “It is idiotic to conserve and protect commercial stocks in our own waters when fish have tails, and once they swim outside 200 miles they’re done for.”

The captain of the Faroe Islands longliner Bordoyarnes was issued six “notices of infringement” between September, 2021 and July of this year for violations while fishing halibut on the tail of the Grand Banks just outside Canadian waters.

Find the breakdown of the notices on this DFO webpage:

The term “notices of infringement” is used because under rules of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), which oversees fishing on the high seas outside 200 miles, it is up to the home country of an accused vessel to follow through with an investigation, and possible penalties.

All six notices were categorized as serious as they relate to the misreporting of catches, and were issued by DFO Fishery Officers during separate inspections — once at sea, and the remainder when the ship unloaded halibut in Bay Roberts.

Unlike most countries, the continental shelf off eastern Canada extends beyond 200 miles, leaving migratory stocks vulnerable once they cross over to international or NAFO waters. NAFO as toothless, unable to enforce the quotes it sets.

Christian Mathisen, captain of the Bordoyarnes, contacted SEA-NL last September after a post was published about the initial two notices of infraction against him.

He described those notices as the result of a misunderstanding, and accused “pirate” offshore factory-freezer trawlers of destroying the Grand Banks by directing for moratorium species such as cod and other illegal fishing activities.

Mathisen said Canadian enforcement officers were aware of what was happening, but told him their hands are tied during the pandemic because Covid-19 protocols prevent at-sea boardings and inspections.

This summer a source aboard a Canadian Coast Guard patrol ship confirmed foreign draggers were denying boarding requests by declaring there was Covid aboard ship. The source said the patrol ship went weeks without a single boarding.

SEA-NL filed a formal request under the federal Access to Information Act for the number of successful/unsuccessful boardings/inspections of foreign trawlers outside the 200-mile limit between March 2020, when the pandemic began, and this past April.

DFO denied the request under sections of the Act that state information may be withheld if its release may be “injurious” to international relations. or contains information confidentially supplied by a third party.

“Newfoundland and Labrador obviously play second fiddle to Ottawa's relationships with other countries,” Cleary said. “Our fishery must become priority 1.”

Canada’s Commissioners to NAFO include Keith Sullivan, President of the FFAW-Unifor, and Alastair O'Reilly, Executive Director of the Northern Coalition Corporation, representing indigenous communities of Canada's Eastern Arctic and Labrador.


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