Poaching Alert: For the Protection of Fisheries Resources
Protecting fisheries resources requires constant vigilance. Illegal fishing activities can have a major impact on species and the communities that depend on fishing activities. Unfortunately, given the size of both the land and sea area, Fishery Officers cannot be everywhere at all times.
For over 20 years now, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has appealed to the public to help counter poaching in Quebec. A phone system for reporting poaching was set up in the early 1990s. The toll-free number enables the public to report suspicious activities and made up the core of the Poaching Alert program. A significant number of reports come in through this system, and each one is verified by DFO Fishery Officers. However, in many cases, the lack of details precludes any investigation. To address this shortcoming and take advantage of the ever-increasing use of new technologies, the Poaching Alert program recently developed a new tool: an online reporting form.
The new form is available on the Department’s website. Those who witness suspicious activities can complete the various sections, which indicate the information required by Fishery Officers. The form also enables users to attach pictures of the activity they have witnessed, as well as pictures of the people, boats or vehicles involved. This online form can be accessed from any device connected to the Internet, including computers and mobile devices. Users can transmit information directly from the place of the sighting. The Fishery Officers’ supervisor in the area involved receives the information immediately and can respond quickly.
Unlike other systems that use email to send information, the new DFO system uses a database network that encrypts network communications. The system does not save any information on the device used to send information, so senders cannot be identified. The form is therefore completely confidential. Of course, witnesses can identify themselves if they wish and leave contact information so that Fishery Officers can get in touch with them if further information is required. Because the data are encrypted at the outset, personal information is secure.
The new Poaching Alert form has been available since mid-December. The 1-800-463-9057 toll-free number is still available. Both tools will allow people in the marine areas of Quebec or elsewhere to actively participate in protecting marine resources.