“EVOLUTION OF THE FLEET: A CLOSER LOOK AT THE CHINESE FISHING VESSELS OFF THE GALAPAGOS” –CIMSEC

Chinese fishing vessel fleet (Photo: The Maritime Executive)

Somehow I missed this post when it was published, 19 Oct. 2020, but it was recently recognized as one of CIMSEC’s the top ten posts for 2020.

This only looks at fishing off the Galapagos, but pretty sure this is happen elsewhere as well. The post reports the Chinese government is paying massive subsidizes and suggests that it seems to be attempting to establish a sort of lien on the world’s fisheries stocks, e. g. “we have historically taken the majority of the high sea’s catch so we should be allowed to continue to do so in perpetuity.”

It also looks at indicators of Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported (IUU) fishing.

“U.S. presence in Palau could balance Beijing’s aggression, analysts say” –Indo-Pacific Defense Forum

The Indo-Pacific Defense Forum has a short article about the desirability of a US defense presence in Palau. Much of it is about Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported fishing, so it is largely concerning the Coast Guard.

There has already been some talk about basing Webber class WPCs in Palau.

The area may best be remembered for the Battle of Peleliu.

“Fresh from Shipyard and Quarantine, Coast Guard Cutter Stone Heads Out for Southern Atlantic Patrol” USNI

Ingalls Shipbuilding successfully completed acceptance trials for the Coast Guard’s ninth national security cutter (NSC), Stone, in October 2020. NSC Stone was accepted Nov. 9, 2020, by the Coast Guard in a socially distanced ceremony. Photo by Lance Davis of Huntington Ingalls Industries.

The US Naval Institute News Service reports that USCGC Stone is being sent on an unusual Latin American South Atlantic patrol, even before she is commissioned. To make a patrol of this length prior to commissioning is almost unheard of, and the location is also something we have not done in a very long time, outside of the UNITAS exercise format.

The inaugural deployment is “a multi-month deployment to the South Atlantic countering illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing while strengthening relationships for maritime sovereignty and security throughout the region,” according to a Coast Guard news release. “This the service’s first patrol to South America in recent memory, engaging partners including Guyana, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, and Portugal.” An observer from the Portuguese navy embarked the cutter for the duration of Operation Southern Cross in the U.S. Southern Command region.

Certainly not the Coast Guard’s “first patrol to South America in recent memory,” but to this part of South America, perhaps.

Recognizing Fishing Vessels Using Force Labor

gCaptain reports,

Fishing vessels with crews of forced laborers behave in systematically different ways to the rest of the global fleet, according to a study purporting to be the first to remotely identify vessels potentially engaged in modern slavery.

Using satellite data, machine learning and on-the-ground expertise from human rights practitioners, U.S. researchers found up to 26% of about 16,000 industrial fishing vessels analyzed were at high risk of using forced labor.

It is not unlikely that the same vessels that engage in this practice, also violate other norms including Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported fishing.

Not sure how the Coast Guard should go about attacking this international problem, but it is something to consider. Certainly vessels flagged as meeting these characteristics should attract our interest.

“China Coast Guard to be allowed to use force in case of territorial infringement” –People’s Liberation Army Daily

This Chinese People’s Liberation Army Daily post concerning use of deadly force, linked here, may be particularly interesting for its call out of the US Coast Guard.

Law enforcement on land, sea and in airspace under its own jurisdiction, with the use of weapons on necessary occasions, are the rights granted to sovereign states by international law. The Japan Coast Guard (JCG) also stipulates that lethal weapons can be used when enforcing the law in waters under its own jurisdiction. For the US Coast Guard (USCG), the use of force is even more common, and it is even planning to apply long-arm jurisdiction to China.

Admiral Karl Schultz, Commandant of the USCG, claimed to strengthen deployment in the Asia-Pacific region and participate in security patrols in the waters surrounding China in response to Chinese maritime militia’s declaration of sovereignty in the South China Sea in April last year. Robert O’Brien, US National Security Advisor, announced on October 24 that the USCG would deploy Enhanced Response Cutters in the Western Pacific. . Without providing any evidence, he accused Chinese fishing boats of illegal fishing and claimed that the sovereignty of the United States and its neighbors in the Pacific had thus been threatened.

If they should choose to employ force against one of our cutter in their claimed “Nine Dash Line,” it is likely they would attempt to get several units in at very close range before opening fire, as they did in this engagement.

Chinese depiction of the fighting Battle of Paracels Islands

Next time we send a cutter into this area, it might be a good idea to have a squad of Marines along armed with shoulder fired missile or rocket launchers.

Might also be a good idea to provide a bit of ballistic protection (and here) for our .50 cal. gun crews. Not too difficult because you can buy it on the GSA catalog.

Most China Coast Guard Cutters are not as well armed or as fast as the Bertholfs, but there are exceptions. In all likelihood they would be more interested in causing casualties and chasing us off, than actually sinking a cutter. This is more likely to serve their purpose without getting themselves in a war. Not that I think such an attack would go unanswered, but they, or a mid-level commander, might be foolish enough to think they could get away with it. Still probably better not to have a lone cutter doing “Freedom of Navigation Operations,” although air cover might be sufficient. Really I would like to see an international repudiation of their claims in the form of an multi-national demonstration.

Combinations of CCG cutters with weapons larger than 14.5mm machine guns could be extremely dangerous at close range. Some of those are shown below.

The China CG version of the Type 056 Corvette

 

China Coast Guard Cutters Converted  from Type 053H2G frigates

USCGC Oliver Berry (WPC-1124), 45 Days Away from Homeport, 9,300 Nautical Mile Patrol, Hawaii to Guam and Return

The crew of the Oliver Berry (WPC-1124) travel in a round-trip patrol from Sept. 12 to Oct. 27, 2020, from Hawaii to Guam, covering a distance of approximately 9,300 miles during their journey. The crew sought to combat illegal fishing and other maritime threats across the Pacific to protect the United States and our partner’s resource security and sovereignty. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of the CGC Oliver Berry)

Below is a District 14 News Release. Not your typical WPC operation. 9300 nautical miles and 45 days away from home port. I was a bit surprised that it sounds like they did not board any of the fishing vessels they encountered, “We executed 19 observation reports on fishing vessels, 6 of which had not been previously contacted by the Coast Guard.” Perhaps there were no ship-riders aboard from the nations in whose waters they were sighted. 

This might also have served as a dry run for the three Webber class WPCs that will be transiting to Guam. Presumably they took the opportunity to introduce this new type asset to representatives of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia and perhaps to the supporting Coast Guard staff in Guam. Notably there is no mention of transiting in company with a larger ship as happened in previous long range operations.

united states coast guard

News Release

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

Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry returns to homeport after a 6 week patrol in Pacific

   

Editors’ Note: Click on images to download a high-resolution version.

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124) returns to homeport in Honolulu after a mission in the Pacific to curtail illegal fishing and increase maritime law enforcement self-sufficiency with international partners. 

The crew of the Oliver Berry traveled in a first-of-its-kind round-trip patrol spanning from Sept. 12 to Oct. 27, 2020, from Hawaii to Guam, covering a distance of approximately 9,300 miles during their journey. 

“Traveling just under 10,000 nautical miles, we (CGC Oliver Berry) operated further from our homeport than any other FRC to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in portions of Oceania,” said Ensign Michael Meisenger, weapons officer on the Oliver Berry.

The Oliver Berry collaborated with the governments of Republic of the Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia strengthening maritime domain awareness and resource security within their Exclusive Economic Zones. An EEZ is an area of coastal water within a certain distance of a country’s coastline for which the country claims exclusive rights for drilling, fishing, and other economic ventures.

The Oliver Berry aided international enforcement efforts by sending observational reports and imagery to the Maritime Security Advisors and the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency, Regional Fisheries Surveillance Center, thereby increasing mission success and showcasing the Coast Guard’s unwavering commitment to partner nations during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We worked to increase awareness of unlawful fishing operations in remote portions of the United States, Republic of Marshall Islands, and Federated States of Micronesia’s EEZs, and on the high seas,” said Meisenger. “We executed 19 observation reports on fishing vessels, 6 of which had not been previously contacted by the Coast Guard.” 

Fast Response Cutters are equipped with new advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems and boast greater range and endurance compared to their predecessor, the 110 foot Island-class patrol boats. 

The FRCs represent the Coast Guard’s commitment to modernizing service assets and maintaining a strong presence and support for a free and open Indo-Pacific. Oceania covers an area of 3.3 million square miles and has a population of approximately 40 million people. Its melting pot of cultures depends on the living marine resources and maritime commerce to allow their people to thrive. 

The Coast Guard combats illegal fishing and other maritime threats across the Pacific to protect their resource security and sovereignty. Combating illegal fishing is part of promoting maritime governance and a rules-based international order that is essential to a free and open Oceania. 

“We made great contributions to our partnerships and increasing maritime domain awareness,” said Meisenger. “As a crew, we could not be happier to be back home after a highly successful and trailblazing patrol.”

 

“Coast Guard sets record for illegal fishing vessel interdictions” –District 8

Below are photographs and a news release from CCGD8’s public affairs detachment Sector/CGAS Corpus Christi. Would not normally report something like this, but there seems to have been a noteworthy change in either the behavior of the Mexican Fishing Fleet, or Coast Guard operations. Incidentally, there are no Webber class homeported in Sector Corpus Christi, but they do have four 87 foot WPBs. Three FRCs are to be assigned to the neighboring Houston/Galveston Sector.

A launch crew is interdicted by Coast Guard law enforcement crews for engaging in illegal fishing in federal waters off the coast of southern Texas April 6, 2020. Coast Guard crews consisting of air support, a small boat crew, and a cutter stopped three lanchas approximately 50 miles north of the Maritime Boundary Line, with a total of thirteen lanchamen were engaged in illegal fishing. Twelve miles of longline gear, illegal fishing equipment, as well as 2,020 lbs of illegally-caught Red Snapper were seized. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Coast Guard law enforcement crews count the catch of five Mexican lancha boat crews illegally fishing in federal waters off southern Texas at Station South Padre Island in South Padre Island, Texas, Nov. 16, 2019. A total of 6,186 lbs of red snapper and shark was onboard the lanchas. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi.

A Station South Padre Island law enforcement boat crew stops a lancha crew engaged in illegal fishing in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico April 30, 2020. Coast Guard law enforcement crews seized approximately 5,000 lbs of Red Snapper, 450 lbs of shark, and illegal fishing equipment from five lancha crews. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Station South Padre Island)

Coast Guard sets record for illegal fishing vessel interdictions

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Coast Guard law enforcement crews interdicted a record-setting number of lanchas throughout the Gulf of Mexico for fiscal year 2020.

Since October 2019, Coast Guard assets and personnel detected a total of 326 lanchas and interdicted 136.

Since the first recorded lancha interdiction in the late 1980s, the Coast Guard has seen a significant uptick in the detection of the vessels, particularly in the past two years, recording 74 lancha interdictions in the previous fiscal year.

The Coast Guard utilizes a layered approach for operations through aircraft, small boats, and cutters, as well as improved technology on those assets, resulting in the drastic increase in lancha interdictions.

“This past year, we applied an unprecedented level of effort along the Maritime Boundary Line towards countering this threat to our natural resources, and the result speaks for itself,” said Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Prado, Coast Guard Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi enforcement chief. “However, we will not be content until we see an end to this affront on our maritime sovereignty. We will continue to leverage all available technology and partnerships to increase our effectiveness. The boating public can play a key role in assisting the Coast Guard. Successful interdictions are oftentimes the result of timely reports from the maritime community. We encourage all boaters to continue to report all suspected illegal fishing.”

A lancha is a fishing boat used by Mexican fishermen that is approximately 20-30 feet long with a slender profile. They typically have one outboard motor and are capable of traveling at speeds exceeding 30 mph. Lanchas pose a major threat, usually entering the United States’ Exclusive Economic Zone near the U.S.-Mexico border in the Gulf of Mexico with the intent to smuggle people, drugs, or poach the United States natural resources.

If you witness suspicious activity or illegal fishing in state waters (out to 9 miles offshore), please contact the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s “Operation Game Thief” at 1-800-792-GAME (4263). For all suspicious activity or illegal fishing occurring in federal waters (out to 200 miles offshore), please contact the U.S. Coast Guard at 361-939-0450.

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“TIAR 21: MARITIME SECURITY, THE TIAR, AND IUU FISHING IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE” –CIMSEC

CIMSEC has what I believe could be a significant proposal for how the Americas could respond to the large fleets of fishing vessels that present a threat of Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported fishing that can overwhelm the resources of the individual nations. The US Coast Guard recently assisted Ecuador in monitoring one of these fleets.

The author suggests that collective action could be taken under the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (commonly known as the Rio Treaty, the Rio Pact, the Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, or by the Spanish language acronym TIAR from Tratado Interamericano de Asistencia Recíproca), perhaps modified as necessary, but he also notes that it already includes this provision,

“…Article 11 mentions how “the High Contracting Parties recognize that, for the maintenance of peace and security in the Hemisphere, collective economic security for the development of the Member States of the Organization of American States must also be guaranteed.” It goes without saying that economic security for coastal nations includes the fishing industry.

What typically happens is that a huge international fleet will follow the fishery. Most will be in international waters, but at least some may be tempted to enter the EEZ of coastal states. This year we have seen them move from off Ecuador, past Peru, down to Chile, and they are expected to transit to waters off Argentina. The size of the fishing fleet may successively overwhelm fisheries enforcement resources of these individual countries, but a collaborative approach could allow more effective enforcement.

The author refers to the US Coast Guard Shiprider Program as a model of how cooperative enforcement might work. Enforcement operations could be conducted under the authority of a representative of the nation whose resources are under threat.

Since the threat is primarily to violations of the Exclusive Economic Zone there would be no need for these collaborating units to even enter the territorial sea of the country under threat.

If such a collaborative operation is successful in the Americas, it could serve as a model for enforcement off Africa and Southeast Asia, leading perhaps to regional Combined Maritime Security Task Forces.

“Japan Coast Guard protects fishing boat from Chinese vessels near Senkaku islands” –Stars and Stripes

The Senkaku islands in the East China Sea are administered by Japan but also claimed by China and Taiwan. CABINET SECRETARIAT OF JAPAN

Stars and Stripes reports the latest of an increasingly frequent series of incursions by the Chinese in an attempt to intimidate Japanese interests in the Senkaku islands.

The report identified the Chinese vessels only as “naval vessels.”

Uotsuri-shima / Diaoyu Dao (Blue, west end and nearly south end, 25°44′33″N 123°28′17″E at Mount Narahara), Kuba-shima / Huangwei Yu (Yellow, north end, 25°55′24″N 123°40′51″E at Mount Chitose), Taishō-tō / Chiwei Yu (Red, east end, 25°55′21″N 124°33′36″E at the peek) referenced on Geospatial Information Authority of Japan and distances referenced on Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Every distances of the map show coast to coast, but distances of the coast of Okinawa Island and Naha City, and the coast of Ishigaki-Island and Ishigaki City are quite near on the map. Author: Jackopoid, from Wikipedia.

“RELEASE OF THE CG ILLEGAL, UNREPORTED, AND UNREGULATED FISHING STRATEGIC OUTLOOK” DCO

The Deputy Commandant for Operations (DCO) has released the “Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Strategic Outlook.” You can see the 40 page strategy document here. There is a short summary here.

The strategy promotes three “lines of effort.”

  • Promote Targeted, Effective, Intelligence-Driven Enforcement Operations.
  • Counter Predatory and Irresponsible State Behavior.
  • Expand Multilateral Fisheries Enforcement Cooperation.

A press release is quoted below. Make no mistake, this is a very big deal, and it is pointed directly at China’s predatory practices that are impoverishing coastal states dependent on fisheries.

united states coast guard

R 171209 SEP 20
FM COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC//DCO//
TO ALCOAST
UNCLAS //N16000//
ALCOAST 347/20
COMDTNOTE 16000
SUBJ:  RELEASE OF THE CG ILLEGAL, UNREPORTED, AND UNREGULATED FISHING STRATEGIC OUTLOOK
1. Today the Commandant promulgated the Coast Guard’s Illegal, Unreported,
and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing Strategic Outlook, which emphasizes IUU fishing as a
pervasive security threat to U.S. national interests. IUU fishing, if left unchecked,
will result in deterioration of fragile coastal States and increased tension among
foreign-fishing nations threatening geo-political stability around the world.
Tackling IUU fishing requires experienced, capable, and trusted leadership. The U.S.
Coast Guard is a well-respected global leader in maritime safety and security; able to
lead a unified force to cement positive change and promote enhanced maritime governance.
This Strategic Outlook outlines the Service’s vision to strengthen global maritime
security, regional stability, and economic prosperity with the following Lines of Effort:
   a. LOE 1 Promote Targeted, Effective, Intelligence-Driven Enforcement Operations.
The U.S. Coast Guard will lead global efforts to detect and deter IUU fishing on the high
seas and in the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of partner nations. Through the innovative
use of intelligence, technology, data analysis, and information sharing, we will identify,
target, and interdict illicit actors in the maritime domain in order to disrupt corrupt
cycles of influence that enable illegal operations.
   b. LOE 2 Counter Predatory and Irresponsible State Behavior. The U.S. Coast Guard will
prioritize operations and engagement in areas where our efforts are most critical to
demonstrate U.S. commitment and model responsible behavior. The U.S. Coast Guard will
shine a light on the activities of those who violate international rules-based order,
exposing and holding accountable the most egregious predatory actors.
   c. LOE 3 Expand Multilateral Fisheries Enforcement Cooperation. The U.S. Coast Guard
will build and maintain lasting cooperation with key partners to empower regional resource
conservation and management. Working with U.S. and international partners, the U.S. Coast
Guard will assist at-risk coastal States and like-minded nations to develop and maintain
their own robust counter-IUU fishing capacity, bolstering their governance and enforcement
systems and affirming the United States as a preferred partner. Through targeted, persistent,
and collaborative efforts, we will sustain and strengthen connections with partner nations
supporting international oceans governance.
2. Each line of effort depends on Unity of Effort, Partnership, Investment in the Future,
and Innovation to succeed.
3. Under this IUU Fishing Strategic Outlook, the U.S. Coast Guard will apply our broad
authorities, capabilities, capacities, and partnerships to be a global leader in the fight
against IUU fishing. Working with partners in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA), the Department of State (DOS), the Department of Defense (DOD),
and others, the U.S. Coast Guard will uphold a whole-of-government effort to advance
national interests in the maritime domain and promote economic prosperity. Through enhanced
engagement with like-minded nations and key maritime stakeholders, the U.S. Coast Guard
is ready to spearhead the global fight against IUU fishing.
4. More information and copies of the strategy can be found at: www.uscg.mil/iuufishing/.
5. POCs: CDR James Binniker at (202) 372-2187 or James.A.Binniker@uscg.mil.
6. VADM Scott A. Buschman, Deputy Commandant for Operations, sends.
7. Internet release is authorized.