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Fisheries Minister Regan joins illegal fishing activities task force

Government of Canada News Release

28th October 2004

The Honourable Geoff Regan, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, has agreed to participate in a task force of international fisheries ministers to expose and combat the global problem of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing on the high seas.

"Canada has a central, constructive role to play in international fisheries issues," said Minister Regan. "We have learned domestically that conservation and an ecosystems approach must be at the forefront of fisheries management. Now is the time to demonstrate our leadership internationally and to share our experiences with other coastal states."

The High Seas Task Force was launched on December 1, 2003 by Britain's Minister of the Environment and Agri-Environment, Elliot Morley, with the fisheries ministers of Australia, Chile, Namibia, and New Zealand. Established under the auspices of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Round Table on Sustainable Development, a small task force secretariat is being hosted at the OECD headquarters in Paris.

Working within an 18- to 24-month time frame, the task force will prepare analytically sound, politically realistic, and financially viable recommendations on how to prevent and eliminate IUU fishing; and to ensure the implementation of these recommendations at national, regional, and international levels.

The work of the task force is focused on the high seas - the area of the ocean that is not under the exclusive control of sovereign states - to isolate what is considered to be the weakest link in the chain where the incentives for IUU fishing are greatest.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimates that about 30 per cent of the world's total fishing catch is taken from IUU fishing activities.

"Fish stocks around the world are being depleted by the illegal fishing activities of rogue vessels," said Minister Regan. "It is imperative that all levels of government work together to change the way oceans and fisheries are governed to ensure sustainable fisheries for future generations."

"I look forward to meeting with Minister Morley in the next few weeks to discuss the role of this task force."

The Government of Canada has made considerable investments this year to support its strategy to combat overfishing. It includes a commitment to work closely with international partners to build and strengthen alliances and to identify ways to improve international fisheries governance.

Minister Regan will elaborate on Canada's international fisheries governance strategy, including the priority of curbing overfishing and IUU fishing activities, during a speech at the Atlantic Mayors' Congress in Halifax, Nova Scotia on October 29, 2004.