The crew of US Coast Guard Cutter ‘Mellon’, including two Canadian fishery officers, returned to their homeport of Seattle Sunday after an 80-day patrol detecting and deterring illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing activity in the Pacific Ocean. The boarding teams detected a total of 68 potential violations.
The fisheries patrol was performed under the auspices of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and the North Pacific Fisheries Commission.
IUU fishing deprives the international economy of billions of dollars, affecting food security and millions of people, including many vulnerable coastal communities.
A recent survey listed illegal fishing as the most significant maritime security threat across ten Indian Ocean countries.
During the patrol, USCG and Canadian fishery officers boarded 45 vessels flagged in Japan, Russia, South Korea, China, Chinese Taipei and Panama, where they encountered violations ranging from improper gear to intentionally fishing for sharks without a license.
Boarding officers also found evidence of illegal shark finning. Altogether, they detected 68 potential violations.
Canada is serious about ending illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. We are working with our US partners to achieve this goal. By preventing fish and seafood products derived from IUU fishing from entering our ports, we will not only help level the playing field for Canadian harvesters and Canadian businesses involved in the fish and seafood trade: we are also sending a very strong message that Canada’s ports have zero tolerance for illegally caught fish,
…said the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.
This is the second joint operation between the US Coast Guard and Fisheries and Oceans, Canada’s Conservation and Protection program, this year, after the first one took place in January.
Along with the two fishery officers aboard the Mellon, Canada also provided fishery officers aboard a Dash-8 maritime surveillance aircraft, operated by PAL Aerospace.
The aircrew performed multiple missions over the North Pacific and Bering Sea using state-of-the-art radars and maritime surveillance tools.
Canada shared the data from these flights with US Coast Guard counterparts to support the Mellon’s patrol mission.
The ship also embarked two different helicopter crews from US Coast Guard Air Station North Bend, who provided 63 flight hours that directly assisted with enforcement efforts.
Mellon’s crew members had several port calls in Yokosuka, Japan, near Tokyo, during the almost three-month long patrol, which covered nearly 19,000 nautical miles.
Built in 1966, the USCG Mellon is a 378-foot high endurance cutter, one of two homeported in Seattle.