“Can France’s Military Live Up to Its Ambitions in the Indo-Pacific?” –The Diplomat

French EEZ, from Wikipedia, by B1mbo

The Diplomat notes,

France has sovereignty, citizens, and broader interests at stake in the region, but its military presence remains small and outdated.

Most of the French military’s missions in the Indian and Pacific Oceans look a lot like Coast Guard missions.

Like the US they have vast holdings of EEZ in the Pacific that have been lightly patrolled and are now subject to the effects of Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported fishing. These include territory both East and West of American Samoa.

I would note that during World War II, New Caledonia was a very important logistical hub in the Pacific War. France does not have a lot of military assets in the Pacific, but they do have several strategically placed islands with port facilities and airports.

It looks like there are opportunities here for cooperation and mutual support between the US Coast Guard and French forces.


Previous reports with news effecting French forces in the IndoPacific:

European Patrol Corvette / “Spain seen joining Greece, France, Italy on European Patrol Corvette program” –DefenseNews

“France confirms order for six new POM Offshore Patrol Vessels” –Naval News, Another Cutter X

French Building OPVs D’Entrecasteaux-class patrol ship

Copenhagen Declaration, Blue Justice Initiative

We are seeing what appears to be growing international cooperation to curb Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and with it, other forms of maritime criminal activity frequently associated with it. A basis for this cooperation is found in the non-binding UN Copenhagen Declaration, Blue Justice Initiative. 48 Nations have signed on to the declaration. It is basically a letter of intent to cooperate. It is reproduced at the end of the post. Notably it has not been endorsed by the US, Canada, UK, France, Australia, New Zealand, India, or China, but this is very important to many smaller nations. I would think the US Coast Guard would be all-in on this. It certainly does not preclude the kinds of bilateral agreements the Coast Guard has with dozens of nations.

How did I learn about this Declaration?

NORTHCOM’s on-line magazine, The Watch, reported on a March 2022 meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM). This led me to look for more information on this organization. 

Below is the CRFM report on the meeting. Additional comments follow.


Belize City, Friday, 18 March 2022 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACS) hosted a Technical Meeting on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Organized Crime in the Fishing Industry this week. It marked an important milestone in the region’s efforts to fortify the region’s response to this very challenging and costly problem, through coordinated action at both the national and regional levels, with the support of the Government of Norway and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the Blue Justice Initiative.

The CRFM, its Member States, and partner agencies both at the CARICOM and international levels committed to advancing their collaboration using modern digital technology, to strengthen the region’s response to illegal fishing and transnational organized criminal activities, such as drugs, human and small arms trafficking, trade in contraband goods, document fraud and forgery, tax crimes, and money laundering, which use commercial and recreational fishing as a cover for their activities.

Last October, during a high-level meeting of CRFM Ministers, twelve (12) Member States signed the International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry (also known as the ‘Copenhagen Declaration’). They also endorsed the Blue Justice Initiative, which supports developing countries in operationalizing the Copenhagen Declaration, aimed at “promoting a sustainable and fair Blue Economy for all, that is free from fisheries crime.”

The CRFM and CARICOM IMPACS convened the technical meeting of senior fisheries and maritime law enforcement officers to identify priority actions to strengthen regional and international cooperation to combat and eradicate IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the fisheries sector. The event marked an important milestone for the Caribbean region in collectively combating the scourge of crime connected with the fishing sector.

Over 90 participants from 15 Member States of the CRFM and representatives of the CARICOM Secretariat, the CRFM, CARICOM IMPACS, the Regional Security System (RSS), UNDP and the Government of Norway participated in the virtual session.

The meeting featured a diverse array of speakers who provided participants with insights on the Blue Justice Initiative and ‘Copenhagen Declaration, the UNDP Blue Resilience Project and its use of digital technology and institutional cooperation, tools and techniques to detect and analyze fisheries crime, and a general overview of fisheries crime in the Caribbean. Participants engaged in interactive sessions, as they contributed to charting the way forward.

In addressing the gathering, Hon. Saboto Caesar, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour, and Chair of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, said: “The fight globally has increased against IUU fishing and organized crime, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the Member States of the CRFM continue to honor our duty… It is our quest in the Caribbean to partner with all international agencies to ensure that we reduce criminal activities when it comes to the Blue Economy. We intend to work with regional and international partners and other friendly governments such as Norway… because every Member State in the global community must play an important role.”

CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton noted the seriousness and impacts of illegal and criminal activities in the fisheries sector and expressed the CRFM’s appreciation for Norway’s commitment to the sustainable use of ocean resources, through the Blue Justice Initiative and the Copenhagen Declaration. He thanked the Government of Norway and the UNDP for supporting the region in its efforts to help address this intractable problem.

Important Dates:

15 October 2018:

The Copenhagen Declaration was initially adopted by 9 countries: Faroe Islands, Ghana, Indonesia, Kiribati, Namibia, Norway, Palau, Solomon Islands and Sri Lanka.

10 December 2020:

Several Ministers responsible for Fisheries from the CARICOM / CRFM Member States took part in a virtual High-Level International Blue Justice Conference that was convened by the Government of Norway. The main purpose of the Conference was to promote and advance political support for the non-binding Copenhagen Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the fishing industry.

 21 May 2021:

At the Fifteenth Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the CRFM, Ministers discussed the issues and recognized the need for Member States to cooperate with other affected countries to improve understanding and knowledge of the problem, identify countermeasures, and build capacity to prevent, deter and eradicate IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the fishing industry, in the region and globally. The Ministers issued Resolution No. MC 15(6) of 2021, documenting their position.

 4 October 2021:

During a special ministerial meeting, several Ministers from the Caribbean Community responsible for Fisheries, the Blue Economy and related matters, delivered official statements endorsing The International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry (also known as the ‘Copenhagen Declaration’). They also affirmed their support for the Blue Justice Initiative, established by the Government of Norway to support implementation of the declaration. (View the proceedings and country statementshere.)

Twelve (12) CRFM Member States, The Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and The Turks and Caicos Islands, signed the Copenhagen Declaration on this occasion.


This in turn led me to a CRFM report of a 5-8 April Ministerial Meeting of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), an organization of 79 member states. Seeing this degree of widespread interest, I had to look up the declaration.


THE DECLARATION

We, the Ministers of Benin, Chile, Costa Rica, Faroe Islands, Fiji, Ghana, Greenland, Honduras, Iceland, Indonesia, Kiribati, Liberia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nicaragua, Norway, Palau, Panama, Philippines, São Tomè and Principe, Scotland, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste and Uruguay;

Encourage other Ministers to support this non-legally binding declaration.

Note the recommendations and the outcome of the 2nd International Symposium on Fisheries Crime held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia 10–11 October 2016 which was published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime at the occasion of the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice during its twenty-sixth session in Vienna 22–26 May 2017.

Recognize that our countries are dependent on the sea and its resources and the opportunities it holds for the economy, food and well-being of our population and we are determined to support a healthy and thriving fishing industry that is based on fair competition and the sustainable use of the ocean.

Are committed to work towards the fulfillment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals particularly in relation to Goal 14 on “Life Below Water” and Goal 16 on “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.”

Are convinced that there is a need for the world community to recognize the existence of transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry and that this activity has a serious effect on the economy, distorts markets, harms the environment and undermines human rights.

Recognize that this transnational activity includes crimes committed through the whole fisheries supply and value chain which includes illegal fishing, corruption, tax and customs fraud, money laundering, embezzlement, document fraud and human trafficking.

Recognize further the inter-continental flow of illegal fish products, illicit money and human trafficking victims in transnational organized crime cases in the global fishing industry and that all regions of the world need to cooperate when investigating such acts

Are convinced that inter-agency cooperation between relevant governmental agencies is essential at a national, regional and international level in order to prevent, combat and eradicate transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry,

Are also convinced that there is a need for international cooperation and that developing countries are particularly affected.

Recognize the particular vulnerability of small-island developing states and other Large Ocean Nations of the impact of transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry.

Are also convinced the need for continuous support on the highest level and the necessity for awareness raising on these issues through events such as the International FishCrime Symposium.

RIMPAC 2022

Navy ships assemble to form a multinational fleet for a photo exercise off the coast of Hawaii during the Rim of Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise on July 26, 2018. Twenty-six nations, more than 45 ships and submarines, about 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC. (MC3 Dylan Kinee/U.S. Navy)

Defense News reports,

 The U.S. Navy and 26 partners and allies have concluded a final planning conference for this year’s Rim of the Pacific exercise, the largest international maritime exercise.

I have not seen dates for the exercise, but presumably July. Certainly there should be at least one NSC, an FRC, and probably one or more CG special teams in the exercise. We may see former USCG 378s from the Philippines and Vietnam.

Apparently for the first time, Taiwan is expected to participate.

Though subject to change, the plan includes 41 ships, four submarines, more than 170 aircraft and nearly 25,000 personnel from 27 countries.

There is a good chance a Coast Guard commander will head one of the task groups for a humanitarian assistance or maritime interdiction exercise.

In the 2020 RIMPAC a NSC USCGC Munro hosted a Navy MH-60S detachment.

There will almost certainly be one or two SINKEX to remind us how much ordinance it can take to sink a ship. Hopefully an NSC will be involved. Would love to see them get a chance to use the new ALaMO rounds, just don’t expect them to sink the target.

 

“Coast Guard Cutter Stratton returns to Alameda following 97-day South Pacific patrol” –News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) participates in a exercise with the Australian maritime surveillance aircraft in the South Pacific Ocean, Feb. 23, 2022. The Stratton is currently underway conducting exercises and operations with partner nations in the South Pacific region. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Sarah Stegall)

Just a news release, but it is about one of those increasingly common long deployments to the Western Pacific. Notable are the use of the small unmanned air system, presumably Scan Eagle, shiprider program with Fiji, and laying the ground work for a shiprider program with Papua New Guinea.

220130-N-CD319-1014 SOUTH PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan. 30, 2022) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) participates in Divisional Tactics (DIVTAC) formations with U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) and British Royal Navy ship HMS Spey (P 234). Sampson is positioned to conduct lifesaving actions in support of disaster relief efforts in Tonga. The ship is operating in support of the Australian Defence Force (ADF). The Australian Government response is coordinating closely with France and New Zealand under the FRANZ partnership, alongside Fiji, Japan, United Kingdom and the United States to assist Tonga in its time of need. Sampson is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with alliances and partnerships while serving as a ready-response force in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tristan Cookson)

News Release

March 21, 2022
U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area

Coast Guard Cutter Stratton returns to Alameda following 97-day South Pacific patrol

Photo of CGC Stratton Photo of CGC Stratton Photo of boarding
Photo of boarding Photo of Fiji press event Photo of boarding

Editors’ Note: Click on images above to download high resolution versions. Additional photos are available here.

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) returned to Alameda Saturday after completing an Operation Blue Pacific Patrol in the south Pacific.

While underway, Stratton’s crew worked with Pacific partner nations, including Fiji, France, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and the United Kingdom on an array of missions and prioritized combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated fishing on the high seas or in partner nations’ exclusive economic zones.

In the effort to combat IUU fishing, Stratton teams boarded 11 vessels during the 20,348-mile patrol and found 21 violations.

“Our collaboration with our partners and utilization of our shiprider agreements gave us the ability to accomplish our mission of combatting illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in order to maintain regional stability and protect the fishing industry,” said Capt. Steve Adler, Stratton’s commanding officer. “By bringing aboard shipriders from Fiji, we were able to patrol their exclusive economic zones to better assist them in enforcing their maritime laws.”

In February, Stratton embarked three shipriders from Fiji with representatives from the Fiji Revenue and Customs Services, the Fiji Ministry of Fisheries, and the Republic of Fiji Navy, who led bilateral enforcement efforts for Stratton to patrol their exclusive economic zones.

There is a shared interest for both Fiji and the United States, as well as other partner nations, to protect fisheries as they provide a renewable source of food and income to the Pacific nations.

The Stratton crew also used small Unmanned Aircraft Systems to increase the ship’s capabilities and further extend the cutter’s patrol area.

“Stratton’s capacity for employing cutting edge technology like sUAS, gives the Coast Guard the upper hand in the fight against IUU fishing,” said Cmdr. Charter Tschirgi, Stratton’s executive officer. “The vast area covered during patrols like these displays the reach the Coast Guard has and the length we will go to assist our partners in the Pacific.”

Stratton visited multiple countries while deployed, including Tahiti, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea. While in Suva, Fiji, Stratton hosted a joint media engagement with the Fijian Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Defense, Manasa Lasuma, and the Fijian Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Yogesh Karan. While anchored in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Stratton also hosted an engagement and law enforcement demonstration in conjunction with U.S. Ambassador Erin McKee and representatives of Papua New Guinea: Chief Inspector Christopher Smith, Terry Udu, Moses Teng, Hiribuma Dabuma, MAJ Norbeth Fehi, and Ivan Salonica. This discussion and demonstration of law enforcement operations and regional partnerships helped facilitate a future signing of a bilateral shiprider agreement between Papua New Guinea and the United States.

“Communicating with our allies face-to-face is extremely valuable,” said Ensign Alexander Mastel, Stratton’s public affairs officer. “With IUU fishing replacing piracy as the leading global maritime security threat, it is more important than ever to join efforts in ensuring economic security in the Pacific.”

While on patrol, Stratton’s crew also participated in multiple joint exercises with partners in the region. These included a formation sailing with the HMS Spey, a tactical maneuvering drill with HMS Spey and USS Sampson, a joint patrol with an Australian Border Force patrol aircraft, fueling-at-sea with New Zealand’s newest replenishment vessel HMNZS Aotearoa, and joint steaming with the French Naval vessel FMS Arago and Fijian Patrol vessel Savenaca.

“Partnerships across the Pacific are the key to success in combatting illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. I am extremely proud of the crew for demonstrating tremendous success in partnering and operating with our regional partners and allies across Oceania, including navies and law enforcement officials from French Polynesia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom,” said Adler. “Only by building these continued relationships and joint operations with patrols like Stratton’s Operation Blue Pacific will we be able to truly make a difference and impact against the global problem of IUU fishing. By training with our partners, we further our interoperability and cooperation, ultimately advancing a peaceful, free and open Indo-Pacific.”

“Coast Guard Cutter Stratton visits Fiji during Operation Blue Pacific patrol” –D14 News Release

The Coast Guard Cutter Stratton passes underneath San Francisco’s Bay Bridge, June 12, 2019. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew S. Masaschi.

Below is a D14 news release regarding a type of operation we now see more frequently. Stratton has been away from home for 50 days and is still heading West. At least the crew is getting to see some exotic places. Hopefully COVID restrictions are not keeping the from going ashore.

The ships mentioned in the release, that Stratton has been working with are of interest. HMNZS Aotearoa is an ice capable underway replenishment ship. HMS Spey is a Royal Navy Offshore Patrol Vessel, one of two sent into Pacific and Indian Oceans.

 

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 14th District Hawaii and the Pacific

Coast Guard Cutter Stratton visits Fiji during Operation Blue Pacific patrol

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

SUVA, Fiji — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton visited Fiji in February after being underway for 50-days in the Pacific combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

During the visit, Capt. Stephen Adler, the Stratton’s commanding officer, met with members of the Fijian media to discuss the Coast Guard’s partnership with Fiji and their combined effort to protect fisheries resources.

“Our relationships with our partner nations are more important than ever in combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing,” said Adler. “We are pleased to work with our Fijian partners to maintain maritime sovereignty and security throughout the region.”

While in the country, the Stratton’s crew welcomed aboard three Fijian ship riders who, with the assistance of Stratton’s law enforcement boarding teams, will ensure compliance with applicable Fijian fishing laws within Fiji’s exclusive economic zone.

The Coast Guard’s mission to combat IUU fishing is essential in protecting maritime governance and a rules-based international order to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Bilateral shiprider agreements are a force multiplier for both Fiji and the Coast Guard because they allow Fijian law enforcement personnel to observe, protect, board, and search vessels suspected of violating laws or regulations within Fijian waters with the support of Coast Guard personnel and vessels.

Speaking recently during a visit to Fiji, Secretary Antony J. Blinken, the U.S. Secretary of State, stated “On security, just this week three shipriders from Fiji are joining the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton to conduct patrols in support of maritime sovereignty and security. The United States is proud that several of Fiji’s future leaders are being trained in our military academies.”

The fisheries industry is a significant source of food and income throughout the Pacific. Protecting this renewable resource is a priority for the United States and Pacific Island Countries as IUU fishing in the Pacific has global impacts and effects.

Recently IUU fishing has replaced piracy as the leading global maritime security threat and has the potential to have a global effect if unchecked.

Prior to visiting Fiji, the Stratton’s crew had been working with British, Australian, New Zealand, and French allied naval forces as well as the U.S. Navy in support of the Tongan government following the volcanic eruption on Jan 15th.

The crew also conducted a number of drills and exercises with allied partners including helicopter operations with the Armed Forces in French Polynesia, fueling at sea with the Royal New Zealand Navy Ship Aotearoa, and multiple maneuvering exercises with the Royal Navy HMS Spey.

The Stratton’s crew plans to visit Papua New Guinea as representatives of the Coast Guard and United States. Both the United States and Papua New Guinea are interested in signing a bilateral agreement to codify the two states’ strategic partnership in the Pacific and enable the Coast Guard to better assist Papua New Guinea in protecting the island nation’s sovereignty over its EEZ against IUU fishing.

The Stratton is a 418-foot national security cutter capable of extended, worldwide deployment in support of homeland security and defense missions. NSCs routinely conduct operations throughout the Pacific and Atlantic oceans; their unmatched combination of range, speed, and ability to operate in extreme weather provides the mission flexibility necessary to conduct vital strategic missions.

Operation Blue Pacific is an overarching multi-mission Coast Guard endeavor, promoting security, safety, sovereignty, and economic prosperity in Oceania while strengthening relationships between partner nations in the Pacific.

“Coast Guard cutters begin Operation Aiga in Oceania” –D14

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Juniper (WLB 201) return to Honolulu after completing a 45-day patrol in Oceania in support of Operation ‘Aiga, Oct. 1, 2021. The Juniper is a 225-foot Juniper-Class seagoing buoy tender home-ported in Honolulu, the crew is responsible for maintaining aids to navigation, performing maritime law enforcement, port, and coastal security, search and rescue and environmental protection. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Cutter Juniper)

Below is a D14 news release. These long distance/long duration operations pairing a buoy tender (WLB) and a Webber class WPC are getting to be fairly routine.

Buoy tenders are proving to be good PC tenders as well. This is a good demonstration of the multi-mission nature of Coast Guard buoy tenders and support for the contention that the buoy tender function should not be passed off to some other agency or outsourced.

Wonder if they might be able to support more than one patrol craft at a time?

(The photo in the news release below is of a different Juniper class WLB, USCGC Elm)

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 14th District Hawaii and the Pacific

Coast Guard cutters begin Operation Aiga in Oceania

 

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

HONOLULU — The crews of the Coast Guard Cutter Juniper (WLB 201) and Joseph Gerczak (WPC 1126) will aim to extend the Coast Guard’s at-sea enforcement presence in the region through a 40-day patrol.

“Aiga,” the Samoan word for family, is designed to integrate Coast Guard capabilities and operations with Pacific Island Country (PIC) partners in order to protect shared national interests, combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and strengthen maritime governance in Oceania.

“Responsible fisheries management is vital to the Pacific’s well-being, prosperity, and security,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jessica Conway, the 14th District’s current operations officer. “The Coast Guard is an adaptable, responsive military force of maritime professionals whose broad legal authorities, capable assets, and expansive partnerships provide a persistent presence throughout our exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and on the high seas.”

IUU fishing operates outside the rules adopted at the national and international level. It threatens the ocean’s ecosystem, food security, and economic growth around the world by undercutting law-abiding fishermen and communities that depend on fish and fish products.

“An essential protein source for more than 40% of the world’s population, fish stocks are critical to maritime sovereignty and resource security of many nations,” said Cmdr. Christopher Jasnoch, the Juniper’s commanding officer.

As part of Operation Blue Pacific 2022, the crews of the Juniper and Joseph Gerczak will conduct information sharing activities to advance the U.S.’s bilateral and cultural relationships with Melanesia and Polynesia.

The Coast Guard regularly exercises bilateral shiprider agreements with partner nations. These agreements help to host foreign law enforcement personnel to better exercise their authority; closing any global maritime law enforcement gaps, improve cooperation, coordination, and interoperability.

Operation Blue Pacific is an overarching multi-mission Coast Guard endeavor seeking to promote maritime security, safety, sovereignty, and economic prosperity in Oceania while also strengthening relationships with our partners in the region.

“To ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific, the U.S. remains committed to strengthening regional alliances and enhancing emerging partnerships,” said Lt. Joseph Blinsky, Joseph Gerczak’s commanding officer. “Leading global deterrence efforts, the Coast Guard likewise remains committed to combating IUU fishing and our crews look forward to collaborating with PICs to better address this growing national security concern.”

“On the front lines against China, the US Coast Guard is taking on missions the US Navy can’t do” –Business Insider

US Coast Guard cutter Munro transits the Taiwan Strait with US Navy destroyer USS Kidd in August. US Navy

Business Insider reports on the increasing demand signal for Coast Guard assets in the Western Pacific and the necessary balancing act that results. They sum it up this way.

  • The US military has turned more of its attention to the Pacific amid competition with China.
  • The Coast Guard has been key, conducting missions other services aren’t equipped or allowed to do.
  • But it already has worldwide commitments, and higher demand in the Pacific could tax its resources.

None of this should come as a surprise to regular readers here, but it is a nice overview and there are some beautiful photos.

Perhaps more importantly these realities are being brought to a general audience.

Thanks to Mike B. for bringing this to my attention.

“Coast Guard, Partners Complete Cooperative Pacific Surveillance Operation” –Seapower

The Coast Guard Cutter William Hart participates in the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Operation Kurukuru off American Samoa, Oct. 29, 2021.
Operation Kurukuru is an annual coordinated maritime surveillance operation with the goal of combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Cutter William Hart/Released)

Seapower magazine has a report on the recently completed, 12 day, Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Operation Kurukuru in the Pacific, intended to counter Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

“The operation included 15 Guardian Class and Pacific Patrol Boats from Pacific nations operating alongside five Australian Navy, French Navy and United States Coast Guard vessels,” said Allan Rahari, the FFA Director Fisheries Operations. “Seven aircraft from the FFA, quadrilateral and regional partners provided air surveillance, as well as satellite surveillance and use of other emerging technologies.”

US Coast Guard participants include two Webber class WPCs, USCGC William Hart, operating out Hawaii, and  USCGC Myrtle Hazard, operating out of Guam, and a CGAS Barbers Point C-130.

The Pacific class patrol boats and their Guardian class replacements were donated by Australia help Pacific Island nations police their Exclusive Economic Zones.

Panorama of three Guardian class patrol boats at Austal shipyards in Henderson, Western Australia. The ships are, from left to right, the Teanoai II (301)‎, the PSS Remeliik II‎ and the VOEA Ngahau Siliva (P302). Photo by Calistemon via Wikipedia.

“The Pacific Islands Forum‘s Forum Fisheries Agency maintains a Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre in Honiara, Solomon Islands.”

“Coast Guard cutter crews conclude Operation Aiga in Oceania” –News Release

The Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry conducts a patrol in and around American Samoa, covering 8,169 nautical miles. The crew sought to combat illegal, unregulated, and unreported 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 Juniper)

This is at least the second time the Coast Guard has done an “Operation Aiga.” It is a clear indication we are taking Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported (IUU) fishing in the remote Pacific more seriously.

Earlier I published the press releases of USCGC Juniper and USCGC Oliver Berry reporting their individual participation in this operation.

It appears this operation has as a second purpose, testing Pago Pago as a cutter operating base.

“Using Pago Pago, American Samoa as a forward operating base between patrol periods, we maintained a strategic presence in the region, reported fishing vessel activity, and cited multiple violations under the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission’s conservation management measures while still continuing domestic enforcement action of U.S. flagged fishing vessels.” 

united states coast guard

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 14th District Hawaii and the Pacific

Coast Guard cutter crews conclude Operation Aiga in Oceania

Oliver Berry

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

HONOLULU — Coast Guard crews completed Operation Aiga, a 46-day patrol in support of the Samoan government maritime law enforcement efforts by providing patrol coverage in the Samoan and American Samoan exclusive economic zones.

The crews from the Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124) and Juniper (WLB 201) deployed from Hawaii to Samoa to provide operational presence and conduct bilateral shiprider operations with the Government of Samoa, in coordination with New Zealand and Australia to combat illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing and promote Samoan resource security and maritime governance in Oceania.

In the U.S. alone, the fishing industry employs about 1.3 million people and contributes $199 billion per year to the U.S. economy, according to a NOAA economic report. Combating IUU fishing is part of promoting maritime governance and a rules based international order that is essential to a free and open Indo-Pacific. 

“Fish stocks are a global food source and provide economic stability for many countries in the Pacific,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jason Holstead, the District 14 living marine resource officer. “Depleted fish stocks due to IUU could contribute to the destabilization of the region and leave small nations vulnerable to dangerous transnational organized crime networks.”

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry traveled 8,169 nautical miles while patrolling the EEZ of American Samoa and Samoa during their deployment. The Juniper crew serviced vital aids to navigation in Pago Pago Harbor and in neighboring islands during their 10,000 nautical-mile patrol in support of Operation Aiga. 

“While in the South Pacific, we patrolled the Samoan and American Samoan EEZs for a total of 380 hours,” said Lt. Micah Howell, the Oliver Berry’s commanding officer. “Using Pago Pago, American Samoa as a forward operating base between patrol periods, we maintained a strategic presence in the region, reported fishing vessel activity, and cited multiple violations under the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission’s conservation management measures while still continuing domestic enforcement action of U.S. flagged fishing vessels.” 

Coast Guard crews also conducted operations in and around American Samoa to enforce U.S. federal laws and regulations and maintain aids to navigation. 

“During the patrol, we serviced 12 aids that directly support safe navigation and the flow of commerce in the territory’s primary waterways,” said Lt. j.g. Ryan Burk, the Juniper’s operations officer. “We collaborated with local stakeholders to complete a waterway analysis and management system (WAMS) survey of the waterways which is the first WAMS completed for American Samoa since 2003 allowing the Coast Guard to assess and improve the safety and efficiency of the territory’s waterways.”

‘Aiga,’ the Samoan word for family, represents the bond between the United States and the rich Samoan culture with the common values that are shared. 

For breaking news follow us on twitter @USCGHawaiiPac

The Samoas

The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124) Sept. 22, 2017. The Oliver Berry was the first of three 154-foot fast response cutters to be stationed in Hawaii. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Levasseur/Released)

Below is a 14th District news release, reporting an unusual deployment of a Webber class WPC to aid Samoa in monitoring their Exclusive Economic Zone. The crew must have crossed both the International Date Line and the Equator, so they have some serious bragging rights. This is not Oliver Berry’s first very long deployment (and here), nor the first time a Hawaii based FRC has visited these waters. There is no indication that Oliver Berry was escorted by a larger cutter.

Samoa is a long way from Oliver Berry’s homeport of Hawaii, but it is pretty close to American Samoa.

Samoa Islands. From US National Park Service circa 2002. (Note these are statute miles.)

There have been suggestions that American Samoa needs more Coast Guard presence. American Samoa’s EEZ is 156,136 square miles, larger than the state of Montana, and 3.56% of the entire US EEZ.

Generally speaking, American Samoa has been out of sight and out of mind for most Americans and the people there seem to have been neglected. American Samoa is the only inhabited unorganized unincorporated territory of the United States. Despite the fact that American Samoans serve in the American Armed Forces at higher rates than any other US state or territory, American Samoans are United States Nationals, but not citizens. 2021 population is estimated to be 46,366.

The neighboring Independent State of Samoa has a larger population, 202,506 according to their 2020 census.

The waters around the islands of the two Samoas provides a rich harvest of Tuna. If the islands are to remain economically viable, we need to prevent Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported fishing in the area. To do that, we need a good cooperative relationship with the Independent State of Samoa and Coast Guard assets closer than Hawaii. The area is also subject to earthquakes so there is the potential need for disaster response.

What kind of assets? Two or three FRCs would probably work well. Ideally three as that  would generally allow one vessel on patrol, one on standby, and the third in maintenance. Some Coast Guard Auxiliary air assets would also help a lot.


united states coast guard

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 14th District Hawaii and the Pacific

U.S. Coast Guard patrols international waters in an effort to strengthen maritime governance and foreign partnerships

 

Editors’ Note: Click on Coast Guard stock image to download a high-resolution version.

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry crew conducted patrol operations in Samoa’s exclusive economic zone in September 2021, deepening our close partnership with Samoa and promoting resource security within the area.

The Oliver Berry’s crew helped to fill the policing gap for illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing while Samoa’s Nafanua II patrol boat was out of service.

“The United States offered to assist the Government of Samoa by providing security and sovereignty operations in Samoan waters due to the absence of their patrol boat,” said Cmdr. Jeff Bryant, the 14th District’s chief of enforcement. “It was a pleasure to support Samoa in enforcing their laws to protect fisheries and other natural resources within their EEZ.”

The U.S. and its allies are trusted partners in the region. The U.S. Coast Guard employs 11 bilateral shiprider agreements with Pacific Island Forum nations, including Samoa, to help them ensure their resource security and maritime sovereignty.  Pursuant to those agreements, host government officials generally join Coast Guard patrols.  Due to COVID-19 protocols, in this instance the Oliver Berry did not make any shore visits or host Samoan government officials aboard.

“The Oliver Berry’s patrol operations highlighted the close U.S.-Samoa partnership and our shared commitment to ensuring security and freedom of navigation in the Pacific,” said Acting Chargé d’Affaires Mark Hitchcock. “We look forward to working with the Samoan Government and Coast Guard to facilitate additional patrols in the near future.”

The U.S. Coast Guard and the Government of Samoa have a history of partnership.  In 2019, the Coast Guard Cutters Walnut and Joseph Gerczak visited Apia Harbor and conducted patrol operations with officials from Samoa’s Ministry of Police and Ministry of Fisheries aboard. Crew from the Coast Guard Cutters also visited Lufilufi Primary School on Upolu Island to donate books, stationary, and sports gear and met with the Samoa Victim Support Group, a non-profit organization that specializes in providing shelter for domestic abuse victims, to donate children’s clothes, baby bottles, toddler blankets and reading materials.

The goal of the Coast Guard remains supportive and responsive to our international partners as they seek to improve the daily lives of their people and contribute to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Oceania covers an area of 3.3 million square miles and has a population of 40 million people; it is a melting pot of culture and diversity and each of those cultures has a dependency on living marine resources and maritime commerce to allow their people to thrive.