The Era of Coast Guards in the Asia-Pacific is Upon Us–Rand Corp

The Rand Corporation has issued an interesting post regarding the increased use and aggressiveness of Asian Coast Guards. It is based on a study of the Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Philippine Coast Guards. The full text of the study is here. in pdf format.

The growth of these four Coast Guards has been remarkable. According to the report, between 2010 and 2016 the China Coast Guard vessel tonnage has increased 73%, the Japan Coast Guard increased 50%, the Vietnamese CG by 73%, and the Philippine CG by 100%.

The growth is largely driven by China’s pushiness using its newly formed Coast Guard, but it is also because of Japan’s new willingness to provide security assistance, at least in the form of Coast Guard vessels, to nations who, like them, must confront Chinese aggressiveness.

There also seems to have been a tacit acceptance of the idea that gray hulls should not mix it up with white hulls. This has played into the hands of the Chinese who have by far the largest fleet of white hulls in the world. In fact there are really only two kinds of vessels, private and government, and when fishing vessels act under government orders they are defacto government vessels

The full report has some figures I had not seen before.

Despite the fact that its missions apparently do not include Aids to Navigation, China’s CG is by far the largest:

“China’s investment has yielded a total fleet size of around 215 vessels, of which 105 are considered large (more than one-thousand-tons displacement) and 110 small (less than one thousand tons). In terms of total tonnage, China boasts the largest coast guard in the world at roughly 190,000 tons, enjoying substantial quantitative overmatch over its Asian competitors.” (The CCG reportedly has 17,000 members.)

Japan Coast Guard had a head start, it has grown less but still has more ships than the USCG.

In terms of fleet size, the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence estimates that Japan has approximately fifty-three large and twenty-five small vessels in operation. The largest vessels in the JCG fleet include two PLH-class vessels with a displacement of 6,500 tons (9,000 tons fully loaded) and two Mizuho-class vessels of 5,200 tons. For comparison, the largest and most capable destroyers in the JMSDF, the Kongo-class vessels, displace approximately 9,500 tons. Most of the medium-to-high-endurance JCG vessels are equipped with deck-mounted autocannon that range in caliber from 20 to 40 mm, and most JCG officers carry light firearms for self-defense. Notably, the PLH-class cutters are only equipped with two Oerlikon 35–40 mm autocannon and two M61 Vulcan 20 mm six-barrel Gatling-style guns, compared with the 76 mm cannon on China’s largest cutter, Haijing 3901.

In terms of aviation assets, the JCG has by far the largest fleet in Asia, second only to the U.S. Coast Guard in the world, boasting twenty-six fixed-wing aircraft and forty-eight helicopters. Finally, the JCG has roughly 13,500 personnel, second most among coast guards in Asia.

Vietnam has also recently formed a Coast Guard.

The VCG has approximately fifty vessels: five large (the largest displaces 2,500 tons) and forty-five small. Soon after the Haiyang Shiyou 981 (HYSY 981) incident in 2014, Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung announced the allocation of U.S.$540 million to build thirty-two new coast guard ships and hundreds of aluminum fishing vessels that can withstand ramming better. With the delivery of two five-hundred-ton TT400TP-class patrol vessels in January 2016 and the addition of six one-thousand-ton patrol craft pledged from Japan, Vietnam will boast the largest coast guard fleet in Southeast Asia. Most VCG vessels have light-caliber deck-mounted autocannon or machine guns (ranging in size from 14.5 to 23 mm) or both, and most crewmembers carry light firearms for self-defense. The VCG has three fixed-wing CASA C-212 Aviocar patrol aircraft. The VCG has approximately 5,500 total personnel.

The Philippine Coast Guard:

The PCG maintains a small fleet of eight medium-endurance patrol craft, mounted with 50 mm autocannon; four buoy tenders; and roughly thirty-two small patrol vessels. Japan’s announcement that it plans to sell eight medium endurance cutters to the Philippines will mean an almost doubling of the PCG medium-endurance-cutter fleet. The PCG has only two operational aircraft— one fixed wing and one helicopter—but it is slated to receive two helicopters from France within the next few years. Finally, there are roughly 9,000 personnel in the PCG, with plans to expand to 13,500 by 2020.

A final note: 

It is not clear what type of displacement the study used. I try to consistently use full load, but Asian nations tend to try to minimize displacement and frequently report only light displacement.

The total displacement of the US Coast Guard’s ships is also going up, but it is not because of more ships, it is because the ships are larger. The total full load displacement for the program of record, 8 NSCs (36,000 tons), 25 OPCs (about 100,000 tons), and 58 FRCs (21,170 tons) is about 157,170 tons. The NSCs are 50% larger than the 378s. The OPCs are a third larger than the 378s and four times the size of the 210s. The FRCs are three times the size of the 110s they replace.

It might be assumed that a Country’s Coast Guard’s size should be related to the size of the country’s EEZ. It doesn’t seem to have worked that way. The size of the EEZs for the countries is

China: 877,019 km2 (plus disputed claims for 3,000,000 km)

Japan: 4,479,388 km2

Philippines:  2,263,816 km2

Vietnam: 748,875 km2

USA: 11,351,000 km2

 

Brookings Institute–A conversation with Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Paul F. Zukunft

Another video, this one almost an hour.

S. Korean CG Fires on Chinese F/Vs

This is one of numerous reports that the South Korean Coast Guard has fired into Chinese fishing vessels as a result of increasingly aggressive and non-compliant behavior.

Apparently the S. Korean CG seized two Chinese F/V but other Chinese vessels attempted to free them by ramming the S. Korean vessels. Apparently there were no deaths or injuries as a result of the machinegun fire.

The China, of course, objected to the use of force.

Greatly Expanded Marine National Monument around NW Hawaiian Islands

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Click on the chart to see enlarged

I’m a bit late picking up on this but,

On Friday, August 26, 2016, President Obama signed a proclamation expanding the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Previously the largest contiguous fully-protected conservation area in the United States at 139,797 square miles (362,073 km2), the expanded boundaries make it once again the biggest protected area on the planet at 582,578 square miles (1,508,870 km2) (439,916 sq nm–Chuck), nearly the size of the Gulf of Mexico.

“Papahānaumokuākea is globally recognized for its biological and cultural significance, being the only mixed UNESCO World Heritage site in the United States and only one of 35 mixed sites in the world. Its long list of protections includes designation as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area by the International Maritime Organization. See full list of protections here.

This was before announcement of the slightly larger Marine Protected Areas recently announced in the Ross Sea off Antarctica (1,550,000 sq km or 451,908 sq nmiles). It is in addition to the recently expanded Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (approximately 1,269,090 sq km or 370,007 sq nm).

My question regarding how these sanctuaries will be enforced remains.

World’s Largest Marine Protected Area Established in the Ross Sea (Antarctica)

512px-Antarctica_CIA_svg

A Marine Protected Area (MPA) has been established in the Ross Sea off Antarctica and South of New Zealand. The area is very large, 1.55M sq kM, the largest Marine Protected Area in the world. That is about the same size as the US East Coast EEZ, larger than the West Coast EEZ and 72% of it is no take area.

We have seen that New Zealand has been doing fisheries patrols off Antarctica, but they only have two Offshore Patrol Vessels. Who is going to enforce these new restrictions? There seem to be many areas where regulations are imposed, but enforcement is inadequate or non-existent.

I am quoting the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) news release in full below:

The world’s experts on Antarctic marine conservation have agreed to establish a marine protected area (MPA) in Antarctica’s Ross Sea.

This week at the Meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in Hobart, Australia, all Member countries have agreed to a joint USA/New Zealand proposal to establish a 1.55 million km2area of the Ross Sea with special protection from human activities.

This new MPA, to come into force in December 2017, will limit, or entirely prohibit, certain activities in order to meet specific conservation, habitat protection, ecosystem monitoring and fisheries management objectives. Seventy-two percent of the MPA will be a ‘no-take’ zone, which forbids all fishing, while other sections will permit some harvesting of fish and krill for scientific research.

CCAMLR Executive Secretary, Andrew Wright, is excited by this achievement and acknowledges that the decision has been several years in the making.

“This has been an incredibly complex negotiation which has required a number of Member countries bringing their hopes and concerns to the table at six annual CCAMLR meetings as well as at intersessional workshops.

“A number of details regarding the MPA are yet to be finalised but the establishment of the protected zone is in no doubt and we are incredibly proud to have reached this point,” said Mr Wright.

CCAMLR’s Scientific Committee first endorsed the scientific basis for proposals for the Ross Sea region put forward by the USA and New Zealand in 2011. It invited the Commission to consider the proposals and provide guidance on how they could be progressed. Each year from 2012 to 2015 the proposal was refined in terms of the scientific data to support the proposal as well as the specific details such as exact location of the boundaries of the MPA. Details of implementation of the MPA will be negotiated through the development of a specific monitoring and assessment plan. The delegations of New Zealand and the USA will facilitate this process.

This year’s decision to establish a Ross Sea MPA follows CCAMLR’s establishment, in 2009, of the world’s first high-seas MPA, the South Orkney Islands southern shelf MPA, a region covering 94 000 km2 in the south Atlantic.

“This decision represents an almost unprecedented level of international cooperation regarding a large marine ecosystem comprising important benthic and pelagic habitats,” said Mr Wright.

“It has been well worth the wait because there is now agreement among all Members that this is the right thing to do and they will all work towards the MPA’s successful implementation,” he said.

MPAs aim to provide protection to marine species, biodiversity, habitat, foraging and nursery areas, as well as to preserve historical and cultural sites. MPAs can assist in rebuilding fish stocks, supporting ecosystem processes, monitoring ecosystem change and sustaining biological diversity.

Areas closed to fishing, or in which fishing activities are restricted, can be used by scientists to compare with areas that are open to fishing. This enables scientists to research the relative impacts of fishing and other changes, such as those arising from climate change. This can help our understanding of the range of variables affecting the overall status and health of marine ecosystems.

Three Chinese Fishermen Kill While Fleeing S. Korean Coast Guard

ABC is reporting that three crewmembers of a Chinese fishing vessel that attempted to flee enforcement action by the S. Korean Coast Guard were found dead of apparent smoke inhalation after the vessel caught fire after the Coast Guard tossed flash bang grenades aboard.

Thanks to Luke for bringing this report to my attention.