Canada Launches International Space Program To Track Illegal Fishing

by : Cameron Frew on : 25 Feb 2021 18:55
Pixabay/Pa Images

Canada has officially launched an international space program to track illegal fishing. 

Illegal fishing is a scourge on countries all across the world, said to represent up to 26 million tonnes (30%) of all fish caught annually – this equates to between $10-23 billion, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.


In addition to impacting the livelihoods of fish harvesters, internationally, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing also contributes to habitat destruction, whether it be out on the high seas or closer to the waters of coastal states. These reasons and more have led to the creation of the Dark Vessel Detection program.

Fishing Vessel PA Images

The $7 million initiative will hone satellite technology to detect and track ‘dark vessels’ across the Pacific, meaning fishing boats without permits to operate in certain areas, which often switch off their transmitting devices to evade any form of surveillance.

Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, said: ‘Illegal fishing threatens the health of our fish stocks and takes resources away from hard-working, law-abiding fishers.’


She added: ‘Through the Dark Vessel Detection program, we’re partnering with other ocean nations to better detect and prevent illegal fishing around the world. We’re investing in one of the leading, most innovative systems on the planet to ensure our fish stocks are protected, our fisheries remain lucrative, and the law is upheld at sea.’

Canadian Space AgencyCanadian Space Agency

The program marks a collaboration between the Department of National Defence, Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science, Global Affairs Canada and MDA.

With ‘state-of-the-art’ satellite data, smaller island nations and coastal states across Canada will be able to keep an eye on IUU fishing, in turn protecting the health of their fish stocks and keeping their residents protected against any loss of resources – something particularly pressing for more vulnerable coastal communities.


By being able to locate the unregulated vessels from space, investigations and subsequent enforcement can be fast-tracked before too much damage is done.

Fishing PA Images

Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said: ‘This state-of-the-art system will help Ecuador and small island nations in the Pacific region respond to illegal fishing impacting the Galapagos Islands and the food and economic security of its people. Canada is committed to innovative partnerships to create a sustainable future for all.’

Rear Admiral Jaime Vela Erazo, National Directorate of Aquatic Spaces, Ecuadorian Maritime Authority, added: ‘The exploitation of living marine resources, mainly ichthyological ones by fishing fleets in the high seas areas is becoming a very alarming threat.’


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Pixabay/Pa Images

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: News, Canada, fishing, Space


  1. Newswire

    Government of Canada launches international program to track illegal fishing using satellite technology