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If the owners of foreign factory-freezer trawlers don't value their crews, pity the Grand Banks

Two Portuguese trawlers that were anchored recently off eastern Newfoundland after COVID-19 stormed through the crews have been cited four times between them for illegal fishing outside Canada’s 200-mile.

Built in 1966, the 264-foot Portuguese factory-freezer trawler Santa Christina was recently anchored off Bay Bulls. CBC photo.

So yeah, pity the Grand Banks.

If the owners have such disregard for crew/human beings (read about it in this CBC story), it's fair to assume the poor migratory fish that swim over the imaginary line in the water that is Canada's 200-mile limit don't stand a chance.

DFO has yet to say whether the Portuguese trawlers were inspected while anchored in NL waters.


SANTA CRISTINA Aug. 1st, 2017 —Citation issued for misreporting redfish catch by more than 50%. Nov. 20th, 2012 — citation issued for not properly labeling product. DeC. 19, 2005 — citation issued for using undersized mesh in the cod end.

PRINCESA SANTA JOANA June 24, 2020 — citation issued for misreporting catch.

The Portuguese trawler Princesa Santa Joana anchored recently in Conception Bay. CBC photo.

The above citations were issued by Canadian Conservation and Enforcement officers on the high seas outside Canada's 200-mile limit (find them here) — including the nose and tail of the Grand Banks, as well as the Flemish Cap, another rich fishing area nearby.

Those international waters are governed by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (or NAFO), which is generally seen as toothless, unable to enforce the quotas it sets.

Under NAFO rules, when a citation is issued it’s up to the home country of the foreign trawler to follow through with court/disciplinary action, which rarely amounts to more than a slap on the wrist. NAFO manages at least two commercial stocks (turbot, squid) inside Canadian waters.

Which is just ridiculous. Ottawa should have taken management control decades ago of all waters to the edge of the continental shelf.

Total catches outside Canada's territorial waters increased from around 56,000 tonnes in 2018 to approximately 72,000 tonnes in 2019.

DFO scientists no longer believe severe overfishing was what led to the collapse of groundfish stocks such as northern cod in the early 1990s. (Read SEA-NL's post: In cod (we used) to trust.)

The below graphs come from the files of Gus Etchegary, a Canadian commissioner to NAFO for 25 years, and show that between 1986-94 (when the NL/Canadian fishery was sinking into moratorium) foreign fleets outside Canadian waters caught two million tonnes of fish — 1.4 million tonnes over their 600,000-tonne limit.

The following is a breakdown of foreign fishing effort in NAFO waters in 2019. A total of 47 foreign factory-freezer trawlers fished a total of 4,674 fishing days for such stocks as cod, flounder, and turbot.

Ryan Cleary,


Independent licensed owner-operators are encouraged to join SEA-NL here. These blog posts will be public for a limited time, before becoming exclusive to the membership.

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08 de jan. de 2022

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