To help improve the conservation and protection of Canada’s oceans, a new DFO-run airbase is up and running on Vancouver Island.

Back in 2019, Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced a five-year, $128-million contract with St. John’s PAL Aerospace, to deliver a new fleet of four aerial surveillance aircrafts.

The contract also included two long-range maritime patrol aircrafts.

When operational, the planes will fly out of three bases of operation, including a brand new facility in Campbell River. It opened in September of last year.

The other bases are in St. John’s, NL and Halifax, NS.

“Today (Feb. 19th), the first of our long-range maritime patrol aircraft—the Dash-8—becomes operational,” the DFO says.

“The Dash-8 aircraft will allow our fishery officers to expand their range of operations, providing them with essential tools to combat illegal fishing and enhance Canada’s maritime security.”

The DFO says the planes will also be a crucial tool to help protect endangered whales.

“This includes monitoring the Gulf of St. Lawrence for compliance to fisheries management measures for North Atlantic right whales, as well as monitoring critical habitat areas for Southern Resident killer whales,” the DFO adds.

According to Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan, Canada’s fishery officers perform a crucial service, helping to conserve and protect marine and coastal areas.

Jordan says, “Our Government, along with PAL Aerospace, a Canadian-owned world leader in its field, are proud to equip our fishery officers with the resources they need to carry out their enforcement duties as effectively as possible.”