Fish poachers held

Tuesday 15 June 1999

international authorities have sent "a clear message" to the illegal driftnet fishing industry by seizing two boats in the north Pacific, said Canadian officials. The two were among four vessels spotted by Canadian patrol aircraft in a joint operation with the us , Russia and China to stop the environmentally-damaging fishing method. Driftnet fishing in international waters was banned by the United Nations in 1991. "I think it's been a success. We sent quite a message by being out there early in the season," said Robert Martinolich, director of conservation for Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The Lobana, a Russian-registry vessel, and the Ying-Fa, which claimed Chinese registry, were apprehended in late April while fishing for coho, pink and Chinook salmon in international waters off the Alaskan and Canadian coasts.

The boats were both using driftnets, which are described as "walls of death" by environmentalists, because they are more than 2.5 km long and indiscriminately catch all fish and marine mammals in their path.

Several dolphins were caught in the Lobana's net, Canadian officials said. The us , Canada, Japan and Russia also have a treaty against all harvesting of salmon in the north Pacific's international waters.

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