FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday, April 5th, 2022
The offshore dragger Novaya Zemlya is the most recent Russian vessel cited for illegal fishing on the Grand Banks outside Canada's 200-mile limit.
Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) says it’s not enough that the Russian president and chair of the international organization that manages fish stocks inside and outside Canada’s 200-mile limit has stepped down.
The Russian Federation itself must be expelled from the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, with the country’s thousands of tonnes of quotas transferred to the Ukraine — another member of the 13-country organization.
“Russia has violated every protocol on the face of the earth with its war on Ukraine, and its membership in NAFO should be cancelled outright, and its fish quotas transferred,” says Ryan Cleary, SEA-NL’s Executive Director.
“Russian seafood is banned around the world, so it stands to reason that its offshore dragger fleet should not be permitted to fish as a NAFO-member country.”
Russian quotas in NAFO waters include thousands of tonnes of redfish, skate, turbot, cod, flounder, hake and squid.
On Feb. 28th, SEA-NL first questioned publicly whether Russia should be kicked out of NAFO, and its offshore dragger fleet banned from fishing outside Canadian waters as another message to President Vladimir Putin that his invasion of the Ukraine is unacceptable.
The CBC reported today (April 5th) that Temur Tairov of the Russian Federation — who was elected President of NAFO and Chair of the Commission in September 2021 — had resigned on March 2nd.
While the resignation was reportedly for health reasons, there’s speculation Tairov would have been asked to step aside. American Deirdre Warner-Kramer has taken over as acting chair of NAFO.
In March, Canada and six other countries left the Arctic Council over Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia was also suspended last month from the International Council from the Exploration of the Seas.
A spokesperson for federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Joyce Murray said Russia would be better in than out of NAFO, given that country would no longer be bound by any quota or enforcement measure.
SEA-NL and other NAFO critics take the stand that the organization is toothless, and unable to enforce the quotas it sets. That said, the frequency of non-member NAFO countries pirating fish stocks on the high seas has severely tapered off in recent years.