“Develop an Indo-Pacific Fishing Security Apparatus to Compete with Illegal Chinese Fishing Fleets and Maritime Militia” -USNI

Chinese fishing vessel fleet (Photo: The Maritime Executive)

The US Naval Institute Blog has a short post recommending,

“…the United States…should spearhead the establishment of an Indo-Pacific Fishery Security Cooperation (IPFSC) that includes nations from Asia, South America and Africa. This organization would enable the member states to ensure territorial and economic integrity through diplomatic pressure, the sharing of intelligence and the sharing of security forces…The ultimate goal of the IPFSC would be to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing throughout the Indo-Pacific region. As the majority infringer, the PRC would have a unified treaty organization economically and diplomatically pushing back against their illicit activities and enforcing international decisions such as the South China Seas Arbitration case… This would be somewhat similar to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization…except with an economic and law enforcement focus rather than a military focus.”

A law enforcement alliance would seem to be much easier to sell than a military one.

There are a few multi-national fisheries management organizations already, but to my knowledge none of them involve sharing of enforcement assets, though, I believe Australia, New Zealand, France, and the US have all aided smaller countries in fisheries enforcement.

The fishing fleets ravaging the worlds oceans are mobile and so large that when they move into an area, they overwhelm the local enforcement agencies. Like military organizations, you can be sure fishing fleets share information about the location and practices of their adversaries–the fisheries enforcement agencies. That is why enforcement agencies need to coordinate and share resources.

Earlier I proposed something like the sharing of security forces proposed here, “Combined Maritime Security Task Force, Pacific,” that could be implemented using an expanded multilateral “ship-rider” program–a multi-ship, multi-national, highly mobile law enforcement task force that can follow the fishing fleets from one nations EEZ to the next. The advantages of having third party witnesses when there is a contentious law enforcement action is undertaken should not be underestimated.

The afloat assets should be supported by shore based aviation and intelligence assets all in support of a multi-laterally developed fisheries management plan.

The USNI blog proposal refers to the Indo-Pacific, and my earlier post was in regard to the Western Pacific. Frankly, similar organizations could be organized in several areas, including the Gulf of Guinea, the South China Sea, the Western Pacific, the West coast of South America, and the Caribbean. It’s likely if we could form one such law enforcement alliance somewhere, and it worked, others would follow the example.

 

“New Analysis: Squid Fishing North West Indian Ocean: Clear as Ink” –Trygg Mat Tracking

Below is an announcement of publication of a brief from Trygg Mat Tracking (TMT), regarding Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported (IUU) fishing in the Northwest Indian Ocean.

I think this is something the Coast Guard units of PATFORSWA might become involved with, at least in a training and capacity building role.

This is a quote from the website explaining how TMT sees its mission.

“TMT provides national fisheries authorities and international organisations with fisheries intelligence and analysis, to assist enforcement actions and broader improvements in fisheries governance.  While TMT works with governments and organisations worldwide, particular focus is on targeting illegal fishing and associated fisheries crime in and near African waters and assisting coastal African States.”


New Analysis: Squid Fishing North West Indian Ocean: Clear as Ink

December 8th 2021: TMT has been monitoring the high seas squid fishery taking place in the northwest Indian Ocean since 2017. The fishery is currently unregulated and has seen significant expansion year on year.

Earlier this year we were able for the first time to ground truth and document the activities of some of the vessels involved at sea – rather than relying on AIS and other satellite sources only – and have produced a brief: Squid Fishing in the North West Indian Ocean: Clear as Ink.

The brief provides extensive images of the fishing activities taking place. This has provided us with extensive new understanding of this operation, but also raises many new questions and concerns.

Key findings of our analysis include:

·        There are very low levels of AIS transmission by some vessels – a significant number of vessels were identified which transmitted over AIS whilst en route to the region and then switched AIS off or transmitted only very intermittently whilst on the fishing ground. Further to this, the quality of identifying information transmitted over AIS was often poor, making it challenging to monitor the fishery.

·        Transshipment at sea was documented from fishing vessels to reefers, confirming that this is an important component of the operation.

·        There are indications of potential EEZ incursions into Oman and Yemen by vessels in the fleet, but no clarity if these are licensed or not.

·        The vast majority of the vessels were identified as Chinese. Equally the majority of relevant port calls by both fishing vessels and reefers are in China. Chinese research vessels have also been active in the area.

·        All vessels documented in the fishery are using a type of gear we have not previously observed, involving large ‘dip’ nets. Many of the vessels appear to be able to deploy multiple gear types. This is significant for several reasons, including that recent announcements by the Chinese Government to limit high seas squid fishing specified that this applies to squid jigging vessels only.

Recently high seas squid fisheries in the Atlantic and Pacific have quite rightly received significant attention. Quietly however a major fishery in the northwest Indian Ocean has also been growing year on year, but was previously only visible using satellite data. Now we have a snapshot of the operations at sea for the first time – and while some of our questions about this operation have been answered, many more are raised. The vessels observed were not jiggers as expected, but are using a new type of net gear. As well as squid the vessels are taking on board bycatch, including tuna species, fish the vessels are not authorised to catch. We hope this new analysis will help to shape appropriate policies and inform further action that will have real and lasting impacts on the sustainability of the North West Indian Ocean squid fishery and all those that depend upon it” said Duncan Copeland, Executive Director Trygg Mat Tracking.

The fishery is now starting up again for the 2021-2022 fishing season. As they do so it is important to note that this northwest Indian Ocean squid fishery continues to be subject to very little management and limited regulatory oversight. This represents a threat, not only to the sustainability of squid stocks in the region but potentially also to other regional fisheries, given the key role that oceanic squid plays in the marine food chain.

There is a clear need to address the current management gap as this fishery falls outside the geographical scope of the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA) and outside the species mandate of Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC). Positive engagement by China in this process is crucial, as flag state for the fleet and port state receiving the catches, and as the only party with relevant information on the species, catch levels and fishing operations.

This briefing has been produced by Trygg Mat Tracking (TMT), with data and analytical support from Global Fishing Watch. At-sea documentation of vessels and fishing operations conducted in cooperation with Greenpeace International.

Download the 2021 brief: Squid Fishing in the North West Indian Ocean: Clear as Ink.

“VESSEL REVIEW | NORVEZHSKOYE MORE – ICE-CLASS TRAWLER TO OPERATE IN RUSSIA’S NORTHERN FISHERY BASIN” –Baird Maritime

Photo: MarineTraffic.com/Ivan Filatov

If you have any doubt, that there will be fishing in the Arctic, take a look at this report from Baird Maritime, about an Ice3 class trawler, second of a class of four, built in Russia, which is expected to operate in the “Northern Fishery Basin just off Norway’s Svalbard archipelago.”

According to Wikipedia, “Svalbard…is a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. North of mainland Europe, it is about midway between the northern coast of Norway and the North Pole. The islands of the group range from 74° to 81° north latitude…”

The Point Barrow, the Northern most point in the US extends to 71°23′20″N.

The Arctic Circle currently runs 66°33′48.8″ north of the equator, so the Southern most islands of the Svalbard archipelago are about 446 nautical miles (826 kM) North of the Arctic Circle. Other islands in the archipelago extend about 866 nautical miles (1604 kM) North of the Arctic Circle.

“Coast Guard Booth Presentations at Sea Air Space 2021” –CG-9

22 meter saildrone Ocean Mapping UAS

The Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9) has provided media used in the Coast Guard’s presentation booths at Sea Air Space 2021, August 2 and 3. While certainly not a substitute for being there, they do provide insights into programs and concerns.

Coast Guard Booth Presentations at Sea Air Space 2021

  • Blue Technology Center of Expertise (BTCOE)
    Overview Blue Technology Center of Expertise presentation
    Ms. Jennifer Ibaven and Dr. Peter Vandeventer, BTCOE Program Managers, Office of Research, Development, Test & Evaluation and Innovation (CG-926)
    Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, 3-3:30p.m.
  • Coast Guard Detachment at DOD’s Defense Innovation Unit
    DIU & USCG Overview presentation
    Cmdr. Michael Nordhausen, Liaison Officer to Defense Innovation Unit
    Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, 4-4:30p.m.
  • Unmanned Systems
    U.S. Coast Guard Unmanned Systems presentation
    Capt. Thom Remmers, Assistant Commandant for Capabilities Unmanned Systems Cross-Functional Team Lead
    Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, 2:30-3p.m.
  • The Future of the Arctic
    U.S. Coast Guard Arctic Policy presentation
    Mr. Shannon Jenkins, Senior Arctic Policy Advisor
    Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, 11-11:30a.m.
  • Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing
    U.S Coast Guard IUU Fishing Strategic Outlook presentation
    Cmdr. James Binniker, Office of Law Enforcement Policy, Living Marine Resources and Marine Protected Resources Enforcement Division
    Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, 2:30-3p.m.

“Coast Guard Cutter Kimball conducts patrol to increase maritime presence and support in Pacific” –D14

USCGC Kimball (WMSL 756) U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Sara Muir

Below is a press release from District 14. This is a demonstration of the Coast Guard’s growing commitment to countering Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported (IUU) fishing in the Western Pacific

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 Kimball conducts patrol to increase maritime presence and support in Pacific

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

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard Cutter Kimball (WMSL-756) concluded a successful two week expeditionary patrol in support of counter-illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries enforcement, furthering the United States’ commitment to regional security and partnerships.

As part of Operation Blue Pacific, the crew of the Kimball deployed in support of national security goals of stability and security throughout the Indo-Pacific; the crew of the Kimball remains prepared to utilize training in targeted and intelligence-driven enforcement actions as well as counter predatory irresponsible maritime behavior.

While patrolling approximately 3,600 miles in the Philippine Sea, the Kimball’s law enforcement team conducted its first ever at-sea boarding and expanded on the multilateral fisheries enforcement cooperations such as the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

The WCPFC is an international body made up of 43 nations and international organizations. Members agree to allow the 13 countries in the pact to board and record any potential violations on their nationally flagged vessels. The findings go to the WCPFC, who notifies the vessel’s flag state of the suspected infraction for further investigation.

“Our presence in the area shows our partners the Coast Guard’s enduring efforts to provide search and rescue response and oversight of important economic resources,” said Lt. Cmdr. Drew Cavanagh, operations officer for the Kimball. “The ongoing presence of a Coast Guard cutter in this part of the Pacific to assist in determining compliance with conservation management measures established by the WCPFC demonstrates the U.S. commitment to the region and our partners.”

The Coast Guard combats illegal fishing and other maritime threats across the Pacific to protect the United States and Pacific Island Countries 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.

While on patrol, the Kimball was briefly diverted to assist in a search and rescue case in the Federated States of Micronesia where they utilized a small unmanned aircraft system, or sUAS. Use of sUAS expands maritime domain awareness and provides persistent airborne surveillance on maritime hazards, threats, and rescue operations.

“Training is also an important component of underway time and affects our readiness,” Lt. j. G. Joseph Fox, assistant combat systems officer for the Kimball. “The team conducted law enforcement training as well as disabled vessel towing training for our newest crewmembers.”

The Kimball is one of the newest national security cutters to be homeported in Honolulu. These technologically-advanced ships are 418 feet long, 54 feet wide and have a 4,600 long-ton displacement. They have a top speed in excess of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 nautical miles, endurance of up to 90 days and can accommodate a crew of up to 150.

Advanced command-and-control capabilities and an unmatched combination of range, speed and ability to operate in extreme weather enable these ships to confront national security threats, strengthen maritime governance, support economic prosperity, and promote individual sovereignty.

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.

North Korea’s Ghost Fishing Fleet –It is worse than I thought

Sixty fishermen aboard this North Korean boat were rescued after it collided with a Japanese patrol vessel and sank off Japan’s Noto Peninsula in October 2019.

The Indo-Pacific Defense Forum reports on the extent of the disaster that has befallen North Korean fishermen since their government has sold fishing rights to the PRC.

“The so-called ghost ships come ashore on Japan’s coastline and increasingly along Russia’s coast, according to a mid-September 2020 report by Lenta.ru, a Russian-language online newspaper.

“Japanese authorities report that more than 500 ghost boats have landed on the nation’s coast in the past five years, with 158 in 2019, Lenta.ru reported. The unidentified bodies found aboard are buried in unmarked graves in Japanese and Russian coastal towns, the online report said.”

“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.

“Cooperative Maritime Law Enforcement and Overfishing in the South China Sea” –CIMSEC

Republic of Korea Coast Guard vessel #3006 in company with U.S. Coast Guard cutter USCGC Boutwell (WHEC-719) during the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum in August 2007. This forum was created to increase international maritime safety and security in the Northern Pacific Ocean and its borders. The Boutwell worked with the Korean coast guard while on their way to Yokosuka, Japan. The Japanese coast guard is one of the six nations involved in the forum.

CIMSEC brings us a discussion of the possibility of cooperative fisheries enforcement in the South China Sea to stop both overfishing and Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported (IUU) fishing and perhaps bring China into a more mutually beneficial relationship with her neighbors.

Earlier, I had a suggestion about how we might form an instrument of cooperative enforcement by forming a “Combined Maritime Security Task Force Pacific,” a law enforcement alliance rather than a military one.

Probably before that could be fully realized, the various nations with competing claims to the waters of the South China Sea, need to take their claims to the UN’s International Tribunal. The more nations use it, the more pressure on China to participate. If, they do not present a cases before the international their claims will be weakened.

 

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.