By the end of May the Canadian federal government will implement expanded patrols of the Grand Banks. The patrols will be supported by serious funding

The patrols of the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks will be carried out jointly by the Canadian Coast Guard and Navy.

In March, federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Geoff Regan announced a five-year $17.5 million allocation to combat foreign overfishing. “The Government of Canada recognizes that non-compliance by foreign fleets outside the 200-mile limit is a serious problem. Blatant disregard for the priority of conservation cannot and will not be tolerated,” Regan said. “Six of the nine groundfish stocks managed by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) are under moratoria, there are increasing indications that vessels from some member countries of NAFO deliberately fish for these threatened species. This is totally unacceptable.”

Under the plan, aerial surveillance and vessel patrols will be expanded to guard fishing grounds that include straddling fish stocks outside the 200-mile limit. The number of at-sea patrol days in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization Regulatory Area will increase 40 per cent – from the current 445 days to 625 days.

Earle McCurdy, president of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers, welcomed the news. “With respect to patrol vessels on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks, increased enforcement is clearly necessary. It really rubs people the wrong way in [Newfoundland] that our fisheries are so tightly restricted while foreign violations continue. The real problem is that NAFO is a watchdog with no teeth.”

The expanded patrols are in part a response to Canada’s ratification of the United Nations Fish Agreement which took effect in January.