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Russia to auction fish quotas it holds on Grand Banks of Newfoundland outside 200 miles

U.S.-based Undercurrent seafood news organization has reported that Russia has unilaterally decided to auction dozens of fish quotas it holds on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland outside Canada’s 200-mile limit — including squid, white hake, and stingray.

The Canadian Coast Guard conducts regular fishery patrols in international waters on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks/Flemish Cap. Under the NAFO convention, Canada does not have the ability to charge foreign fishing vessels suspected of illegal fishing. Picture taken from the wheelhouse of a Faroese longliner.

According to Undercurrent, an auction is scheduled for Aug. 7th when 37 lots of quotas held by Russia under the jurisdiction of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) — which oversees high seas fishing outside Canada's territorial waters off eastern Newfoundland and Labrador — are to be sold.

The auction — which will also include quotas in international waters off Japan and the northeast Atlantic — is seen as a sign that Russia plans to remain within NAFO and similar organizations, although with "differences."

In February 2022 SEA-NL 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 very next month Temur Tairov of the Russian Federation — who was elected President of NAFO and Chair of the Commission in September 2021 — resigned his post.

SEA-NL took the position in April 2022 that the resignation was not enough: the Russian Federation itself must be expelled from NAFO, with the country’s thousands of tonnes of quotas transferred to the Ukraine — another member of the 13-country NAFO organization.

At the time, 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 critics take the stand that NAFO is toothless, and unable to enforce the quotas it sets.

The Russian dragger Novaya Zemlya has a history of illegal fishing outside Canada's 200-mile limit. For a history of Russian fishing off Newfoundland and Labrador please download the below 1962 MacLean's magazine piece:

Download PDF • 102KB

Ryan Cleary,

Executive Director, SEA-NL

Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is a professional, non-profit organization that serves as the distinct voice for licensed, independent owner-operator inshore fish harvesters. Visit to join.

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