Citations for illegal fishing activity were issued to four international trawlers in April and May of this year by Canada's Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) inspectors.
The allegations included exceeding the bycatch of cod, misreporting of catch and using undersize mesh while fishing.
The alleged incidents occurred against Russian, Spanish and Portuguese vessels while operating in the NAFO regulatory area.
According to information obtained from NAFO and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans:
> On May 5, Canadian NAFO inspectors boarded the Russian vessel MelKart-3 while the vessel was in port at Argentia.
> An inspection determined that the master had exceeded the by-catch allowance.
> Two citations were issued to the master of the fishing vessel: exceeding the bycatch allowance of 3N cod; and failure to leave the NAFO Division for at least 60 hours as specified in regulations.
> On May 3, three NAFO inspectors (two from Canada and one from the European Union) boarded the Spanish vessel Puente Sabaris that was fishing Greenland halibut in NAFO Division 3L.
> While the master had recorded 65 tonnes of catch in the fishing log and stowage plan, inspectors found an additional 51.25 tonnes of Greenland halibut in a separate hold that was not recorded.
> Two citations were issued to the master of the fishing vessel: mis-recording of catch in the fishing logbook (in excess of the greater of 20 per cent or 10 tonnes; and failing to maintain an accurate stowage plan.
> The vessel was subsequently recalled to port by Spanish officials to facilitate an investigation.
> On April 19, the Portuguese fishing vessel Coimbra was inspected and found to be using gear that contravened NAFO's Conservation and Enforcement Measures.
> Two citations to the master of the fishing vessel were issued: fishing for groundfish with a mesh size less than 130 mm; and use of a multiple flap topside chafer attached to the upper side of the codend with a mesh size less than that of the codend.
> On April 13, Canadian NAFO inspectors boarded the Portuguese fishing vessel Calvao.
> Inspectors said the logbook information didn't match Canadian air surveillance flight catch estimates and the daily catch report for April 7.
> Canadian NAFO inspectors issued two citations to the master of the fishing vessel: Misrecording catch in the fishing logbook; and misreporting catch in the daily catch report.
Once citations are issued, in accordance with Articles 39 and 40 of the NAFO Conservation and Enforcement Measures, it is the responsibility of the vessel's respective flag state to follow up with appropriate responsive actions, including an immediate and full investigation of the incident.
Appropriate judicial or administrative action is expected to ensue with the potential to lead to sanctions and penalties in the flag state.