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Commercial Fishing



Canadian Government awards aerial surveillance contract in St John’s to improve conservation and protection of our oceans.

Making their oceans and our coasts healthier and safer, as well as ensuring their Indigenous, commercial, and recreational fisheries remain sustainable, are priorities for the Government of Canada. Through patrol and enforcement of their laws, Canada continues to protect our oceans, marine life and fisheries from coast to coast to coast.

Today, the Minister of Indigenous Services and Member of Parliament for St. John’s South — Mount Pearl, the Honourable Seamus O’Regan, announced that the Government of Canada is awarding a five-year, $128 million contract to PAL Aerospace, an international aerospace and defence company based in St. John’s, Newfoundland. PAL is a global leader in airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, with over four decades of experience in both civilian and military aviation environments. The agreement also includes opportunities for PAL Aerospace to earn extensions that increase the life of the contract to ten years. Over the next 18 months, PAL Aerospace will prepare bases of operation in Halifax and Campbell River, in addition to its headquarters in St. John’s, supporting over 100 jobs in the process.

This new contract will provide fishery officers with longer range aircraft, expanding their range of operations and giving them enhanced tools to combat illegal fishing and increase Canada’s maritime security. The contract will also allow high-fishing areas to be patrolled more often and for longer periods.

This contract will also help fulfill the Government of Canada’s commitment to protecting Canada’s oceans, waterways and marine life. As they work to protect 10 per cent of Canada’s marine and coastal waters by 2020, these aircraft and new bases of operation will help fishery officers better patrol marine protected areas (MPAs) across Canada, including remote MPAs Anguniaqvia niqiqyuam and Tarium Niryutait in the Beaufort Sea.

They will also help enforce the measures put in place by the Government of Canada to protect their endangered whales. This includes monitoring the Gulf of St. Laurence for compliance of the recently-announced fisheries management measures for North Atlantic right whales, as well as monitoring critical habitat areas for Southern Resident killer whales and enforcing fisheries management measures for their primary prey, Chinook salmon.

Enforcement is a key aspect the Government of Canada’s commitment to protecting our oceans and ensuring sustainability of Canadian fisheries. This contract, as well as their commitment to hire more than 100 new fishery officers by the end of 2019, will go a long way to ensuring the enforcement of protections provided through the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan, $1.3 billion for Canada’s Nature Legacy and the updating and modernizing the Fisheries Act and the Oceans Act to protect marine life and its habitat.


“Canada’s fishery officers perform a crucial role in conserving and protecting Canada’s marine and coastal areas, as well as fisheries resources and habitat. The contract awarded to Newfoundland and Labrador’s PAL Aerospace will allow fishery officers to go out further and do better enforcement. With longer range aircrafts and bases in Halifax and Campbell River, the Government of Canada will be able to increase compliance and enforcement from coast to coast to coast.”

Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson

“Our government is ensuring our marine and coastal areas are protected, while contributing to the sustainable development of communities. These contracts will create new jobs for Canadians and provide the required aerial surveillance capability for Canada’s inland areas, coastal, Arctic and offshore waters.”

The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility

“This contract is fantastic news for the people of St. John’s, a city that is proud to be the home of PAL Aerospace, an international leader in its field. We look forward to getting to work on this contract, in order to support the work of our fishery officers across the country.”

Minister of Indigenous Services and Member of Parliament for St. John’s South—Mount Pearl, the Honourable Seamus O’Regan

“Congratulations to PAL Aerospace and DFO for continuing their partnership in fisheries surveillance into its fourth decade. PAL Aerospace is one of the largest manufacturers in my riding. And this contract will see aircraft modified by my constituents used in all Canada’s Maritime environments – East, West, and the North – in support of fisheries protection and ocean surveillance.”

Member of Parliament for St. John’s East, the Honourable Nick Whalen

Quick Facts

  • PAL is a global leader in airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), with over four decades of experience in both civilian and military aviation environments.
  • The contract includes two King Air 200 and two Dash-8-100 maritime patrol aircraft, and three bases of operation: St. John’s, NL; Halifax, NS; and Campbell River, BC.
  • The new contract will take effect no later than Sept. 1, 2020.
  • Fishery officers flew over 750 hours in 2018 patrolling the Gulf of St. Lawrence to enforce fishery management measures designed to protect North Atlantic right whales.
  • Aerial surveillance over Southern Resident Killer Whale critical habitat increased by 30% in 2018, following the implementation of fishery management measures for Chinook salmon, the whales’ preferred prey.

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