U.S., Canada conduct fisheries enforcement with partner nations in South Pacific

The following is a Fourteenth District new release. This is a follow up to an earlier post/news release. Since Nov. 2018 we have had Munro, Bertholf, and Mellon in the Western Pacific. Really looks like it is becoming routine, now with help from Canadian maritime patrol aircraft.

united states coast guard 
Fri, Feb 15, 2019 6:25 pm
Coast Guard Fourteenth District Hawaii and the Pacific News (coastguardfourteenthdistrict@service.govdelivery.co

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 14th District Hawaii and the Pacific
Contact: 14th District Public Affairs
Office: (808) 535-3230
After Hours: (808) 341-9849
14th District online newsroom

Imagery Available: U.S., Canada conduct fisheries enforcement with partner nations in South Pacific

Joint boardings Mellon and CP-140 Boarding team

Editors’ Note: Click on images to view more and download high-resolution versions.

HONOLULU — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mellon (WHEC 717) continues their patrol of the South Pacific with partners from several nations in January and into February.

“The U.S. is advancing a vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific that excludes no nation. We are redoubling our commitment to establish alliances and partnerships while expanding and deepening relationships with new partners that share respect for sovereignty, fair and reciprocal trade, and the rule of law,” said Capt. Robert Hendrickson, chief of response for Coast Guard 14th District. “We rely on partners, allies, and like-minded nations to achieve our missions.”

Following their first leg, the crew embarked ship riders from Fiji and Tuvalu to enforce Fisheries laws in each partner nations’ respective exclusive economic zones (EEZ). The Mellon’s boarding teams and the fisheries officers conducted a professional exchange and law enforcement training, sharing tactics and best practices. This effort was coordinated with significant support from Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing deprives the international economy of billions of dollars and undermines the livelihoods of legitimate fishers from all nations. It impacts food security, affecting millions of people, including many vulnerable coastal communities. It is estimated that IUU fishing accounts for about 30 percent of all fishing activity worldwide, representing up to 26 million tons of fish caught annually, valued at between $10 to $23 billion.

“Coast Guard 14th District personnel began partnering with Canada’s DFO in July when two DFO officers joined U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sequoia (WLB 215) for a 23-day patrol on high seas west of Guam,” said Hendrickson. “Sequoia’s deployment was incredibly successful, resulting in 15 suspected violations of Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission’s conservation and management measures while completing 11 foreign vessel inspections. The important trip helped to cement the Coast Guard and DFO’s growing partnership for enforcement in Oceania.”

Two DFO officers joined Mellon’s crew for the transit from Hawaii to Fiji after attending the Coast Guard’s Pacific Regional Fisheries Training Center course for Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) enforcement. They conducted high seas boardings along the way. Canada’s Air Force committed a CP-140 Aurora fixed-wing aircraft to provide maritime domain awareness for Mellon over two weeks, as well as delivering fishery enforcement operations for several regional Pacific Island countries. The DFO deployed two of their officers with the Aurora, and the Coast Guard sent a specialized fisheries training officer from the Regional Training Center to assist the aircrew with specific fisheries details and information for the crew. Working with Canada’s Department of National Defence and the U.S. Coast Guard, they patrolled around Fiji and the island nations of Kiribati, Tokelau, Vanuatu, and Tuvalu. IUU fishing is of particular concern in this area as several small island developing states have some of the most vulnerable waters for IUU fishing and need support from other nations.

Throughout the patrol, fishery officers were part of seven reconnaissance flights by the Aurora, to provide a visible surveillance presence and to help enforce WCPFC conservation measures. The Aurora detected and documented 101 fishing vessels during the mission, providing critical data to the U.S. Coast Guard patrol and the Forum Fisheries Agency, which coordinates enforcement amongst the island nations. The Canadian aircraft also patrolled the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, a UNESCO world heritage site where fishing is banned. The Aurora was able to ensure the area was clear of fishing activity during its patrol. 

“The U.S. Coast Guard and the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans have a long history of working together to ensure the viability of fish stocks off North America. Working with experts from Canada and regional leaders like Fiji is vital to ensuring food security and the rule of law in Oceania. Working together we are helping to ensure a more secure, free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Hendrickson.

Fishery officers aboard the cutter Mellon patrolled over 1,786 square miles (2,875 square kilometers) within the WCPFC convention area. They were also part of the enforcement team that boarded two boats: one fishing vessel and one fuel supply ship known as a bunkering vessel. The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating two potential violations of transshipment rules and vessel identification requirements aboard the vessels inspected during the mission.

These recent patrols were part of Canada’s international commitment to support fisheries on the high seas and tackle IUU fishing, which is a significant contributor to declining fish stocks and marine habitat destruction around the world.

“Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing threatens food security, impacts the sustainability of fisheries, and causes irreparable damage to marine and freshwater ecosystems across the globe. Partnerships, like this one with Canada’s Department of National Defence and the United States Coast Guard, are the key to tackling IUU fishing that threatens many vulnerable coastal communities. We will continue to work with other countries and assist small island developing states in combating IUU fishing to increase security and protect the health of fish stocks around the world,” said the Honorable Jonathan Wilkinson, minister of fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.


2 thoughts on “U.S., Canada conduct fisheries enforcement with partner nations in South Pacific

  1. Press Release. More evidence of renewed interest in the Western Pacific

    U.S., Federated States of Micronesia conduct bilateral engagement;
    Commemorate Operation Hailstone

    HONOLULU — Continuing Coast Guard commitment in the Indo-Pacific Region, Rear Adm. Kevin Lunday joined the U.S. Delegation lead by Chargé d’ Affaires Heather Coble who met in Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), for a bilateral meeting with the Honorable Secretary Lorin Robert, FSM Department of Foreign Affairs and the FSM delegation prior to the 75th commemoration of Operation Hailstone.

    “The U.S. Coast Guard operates closely with the Federated States of Micronesia to conduct maritime search and rescue, ensure the safety and security of ports for vital maritime commerce, and counter illegal fishing in the FSM Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that threatens its resource and national security,” said Rear Adm. Kevin Lunday, Commander, Coast Guard 14th District. “We continue to advance our close working relationship and alliance with FSM, Palau, and the Marshall Islands under the Compact of Free Association (COFA) with the U.S. Together, we share common values and an alliance to ensure a rules-based order across Oceania that is vital to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

    Following the bilateral meeting, both delegations participated in commemoration ceremonies culminated with a wreath-laying in the Chuuk Lagoon.

    The U.S. Delegation also visited the Chuuk State seaport and Chuuk Public Utility Corporation Power Plant. Kembo Mida, General Manager, briefed the delegation on the success of the power plant and ongoing challenges to Chuuk’s water supply during the current drought. The wastewater treatment plant was overhauled recently with funds provided through the COFA.

    “The Department of the Interior has a long and cherished history with the Federated States of Micronesia,” said Doug Domenech, Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior insular and international affairs. “Through our relationship under the Compact of Free Association, together we have improved and built schools, hospitals, utilities, and other projects throughout the FSM that directly benefit the people of the FSM. We are proud of that legacy. We continue to collaborate as partners in the U.S.-FSM Joint Economic Management Committee and will continue to carefully consider future needs as we jointly manage the Compact Trust Fund together.”

    The Coast Guard is continuing to partner with FSM, Palau, and the Marshall Islands to build search and rescue capacity through training, mutual exchange, and joint fisheries enforcement patrols. This effort includes command center search and rescue courses in Guam including the FSM National Police as well as the orange boat program, painting the interior of skiffs orange to be more easily seen from the sky during searches, leading to a resolution on cases when such craft are beset by weather or suffer mechanical issues.

    These consistent efforts led to resource support and delivery of supplies following Typhoons Mangkhut and Yutu in the Fall of 2018, the joint rescue of three FSM fishermen one year ago, and the aid rendered to responders, passengers and crew of Air Niugini flight PX56 following its crash landing in Chuuk Sept. 28.

    The Coast Guard and FSM are also pursuing bilateral operations with shipriders aboard Coast Guard ships to counter illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in FSM EEZ to improve resource security and regional stability. This relationship was most recently highlighted in September when the crew of the USCGC Sequoia (WLB 215) conducted joint fisheries patrols in the FSM EEZ and on the high seas with the FSM shipriders and Canada Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

    More than half of the world’s tuna comes from the Western and Central Pacific according to the National Fisheries Institute, and fisheries are the primary economic driver in the Pacific, especially for small Pacific Island Nations. IUU fishing results in losses of more than an estimated 21 to 46 percent of catch representing a $1.5 billion revenue loss in the region according to the Marine Resource Assessment Group. This loss directly impacts regional stability, governance and increases the risk for other transnational crime from supplanted traditional fishing voids created by economic declines. This threat is why a robust multilateral enforcement presence is crucial.

    The commemoration of Operation Hailstone pays homage to those who gave their lives promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific 75 years ago. The operation took place 17 to18 Feb. 1944 and was a massive U.S. Navy air and surface attack on a concentration of the Japanese Fleet in Chuuk Lagoon. The result was a victory over the Japanese forces preventing the reinforcement of the Eniwetok garrison. This effort saw the destruction of cruisers, destroyers, auxiliary merchant ships, aircraft and a total loss of more than 4,500 FSM, Japanese and American lives. The bombardment of Operation Hailstone played an essential part in changing the tide during the World War II battle in the Pacific. Numerous wrecks remain from that decisive battle and are part of the world-renowned wreck-diving site in Chuuk, formerly known as Truk Lagoon. While Operation Hailstone was taking place, Coast Guard forces were participating in the simultaneous invasion of Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands to the east as part of the larger Pacific Campaign.

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