Below is a news release in full. USCGC Mellon is in the North Pacific, but this is not a typical ALPAT (Alaska Patrol). In addition to working with US authorities, she is working with, “five Pacific Rim countries and three regional fisheries management organizations (RFMO).” This is, I presume, the Coast Guard helping nations of the Western Pacific deal with those who would steal their livelihood and deplete their environment.
U.S. Coast Guard 17th District Alaska
Coast Guard patrols North Pacific in support of international fisheries
Editor’s Note: Click on images to download high resolution version.
JUNEAU, Alaska — The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Mellon (WHEC 717) continues their North Pacific patrol in support of Operation North Pacific Guard (NPG) 2019, protecting living marine resources, enforcing international fisheries agreements and conducting global security missions.
Since June, Mellon’s crew has conducted 40 boardings and issued 61 violations. Twenty-five were serious violations because of their potential to severely impact fisheries and/or blatant disregard for conservation and management measures. Their most frequent violations were improper vessel marking (9), illegal shark finning (4), and improper use of or intentional tampering with the vessel monitoring system (2).
“These fisheries patrols are vital to demonstrating the U.S.’s commitment to our regional partnerships while strengthening regional maritime governance and promoting sustainability of living marine resources,” said Capt. Jonathan Musman, commanding officer of cutter Mellon. “I’m extremely proud of the work we’ve done this patrol, and it’s a direct result of the hard work of this crew as well as the continued support of our international partners. Together, we’ve put in a lot of hours and a lot of work, and we’ve seen impressive results because of it.”
Mellon’s deployment is in support of U.S. goals for the conservation and management of high seas fisheries resources to eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activity from the North Pacific. NPG 2019 showcases a multi-mission effort between the Coast Guard, NOAA, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, five Pacific Rim countries and three regional fisheries management organizations (RFMO). Unlike previous years’ operations, Mellon has conducted high seas boardings and inspections on the North Pacific Fisheries Commission (NPFC) fishing vessels, while continuing to conduct Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) boardings.
“We’ve seen a 344 percent increase in boardings and 867 percent increase in violations compared to last year’s operation,” said Lt. Cdr. Kristen Caldwell, living marine resource program manager, Pacific Area. “This increase highlights the significance of employing differing authorities all aimed at mitigation of IUU fishing, capitalizing on a highly capable resource to maximize time on scene and the targeting of IUU vessels.”
NPG 2019 was designed to conduct law enforcement operations in support of RFMO in the North Pacific Ocean. Through the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum (NPCGF) and North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission’s (NPAFC) enforcement coordination process, each partner nation contributes to this at-sea enforcement effort by providing surface patrols and/or air surveillance.
This operation is in direct support of the National Security Strategy as it aligns with the tenant of “achieving better outcomes in multilateral forums,” as well as by addressing the risks to sovereignty of developing nations by China identified in the Indo-Pacific Region. The 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) also has identified China as a “strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea.” A goal of the NDS is to “support U.S. interagency approaches and work by, with, and through our allies and partners to secure U.S. interests and counteract this coercion.”
Due to the increasing threat, complexity and diversity of tactics in IUU fishing, it is critical to ensure oversight and enforcement in regions in which the United States has jurisdiction and authority to mitigate the rapidly developing influence of specified fleets known to engage in IUU fishing. Efforts to increase the ability of the United States to check the threat of IUU fishing in the Pacific Ocean have been continuous, with the recent success of the adoption of high-seas boarding inspections (HSBI) for the Northern Pacific Fisheries Commission and continued efforts in the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission’s (NPFAC) Convention Areas.
During NPG 2019, Mellon embarked two Canadian shipriders from the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans as well as two aircrews from Coast Guard Air Station North Bend.
Mellon, a 378-foot high endurance cutter with a crew of 150, is homeported in Seattle and routinely deploys in support of counter-drug and alien migrant interdiction, living marine resources and search and rescue missions.
News release upon their return”
Sept. 6, 2019
U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area
Contact: Coast Guard Pacific Area Public Affairs
Pacific Area online newsroom
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mellon returns after 80-day Canada, U.S. patrol of Pacific Ocean
SEATTLE — The crew of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mellon (WHEC 717), including two Canadian fishery officers, returned to their homeport of Seattle Sunday after an 80-day patrol detecting and deterring illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing activity in the Pacific Ocean.
IUU fishing deprives the international economy of billions of dollars and undermines the livelihoods of legitimate fish harvesters around the world. It impacts food security, affecting millions of people, including many vulnerable coastal communities. Combatting global IUU fishing through international partnerships is a priority for Canada and the United States.
“IUU fishing is one of the greatest threats to the ocean’s fish stocks,” said Capt. Jonathan Musman, Mellon’s commanding officer. “It was an honor to be on the front lines of enforcement efforts of the distant waters fishing fleets.”
The fisheries patrol was performed under the auspices of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and the North Pacific Fisheries Commission. During the patrol, Coast Guard and Canadian fishery officers boarded 45 vessels flagged in Japan, Russia, South Korea, China, Chinese Taipei and Panama, and they encountered violations ranging from improper gear to intentionally fishing for sharks without a license. Boarding officers also found evidence of illegal shark finning. Altogether, boarding teams detected 68 potential violations.
“Canada is serious about ending illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,” said the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.
“We are working with our U.S. partners to achieve this goal. By preventing fish and seafood products derived from IUU fishing from entering our ports, we will not only help level the playing field for Canadian harvesters and Canadian businesses involved in the fish and seafood trade: we are also sending a very strong message that Canada’s ports have zero tolerance for illegally caught fish.”
This is the second joint operation between the U.S. Coast Guard and Fisheries and Oceans, Canada’s Conservation and Protection program, this year. Along with the two fishery officers aboard the Mellon, Canada also provided fishery officers aboard a Dash-8 maritime surveillance aircraft, operated by PAL Aerospace. The aircrew performed multiple missions over the North Pacific and Bering Sea using state-of-the-art radars and maritime surveillance tools. Canada shared the data from these flights with U.S. Coast Guard counterparts to support the Mellon’s patrol mission.
The ship also embarked two different helicopter crews from U.S. Coast Guard Air Station North Bend, who provided 63 flight hours that directly assisted with enforcement efforts.
Mellon’s crewmembers had several port calls in Yokosuka, Japan, near Tokyo, during the almost three-month long patrol, which covered nearly 19,000 nautical miles.
The USCG Mellon is a 378-foot high endurance cutter, one of two homeported in Seattle. The ship was built in 1966 and was designed to perform each of the Coast Guard’s missions, including search and rescue, national defense, law enforcement, and environmental protection.