Under NOAA auspices, the U. S. Interagency Working Group on IUU Fishing has issued a five year strategy to address IUU fishing.
There are three identified objectives:
- Promote Sustainable Fisheries Management and Governance
- Enhance the Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance of Marine Fishing Operations
- Ensure Only Legal, Sustainable, and Responsibly Harvested Seafood Enters
Five nations have been identified as priorities for development of self sufficiency in the prevention of IUU fishing: Ecuador, Panama, Senegal, Taiwan, and Vietnam. These “Priority States” were selected because their “…vessels: “actively engage in, knowingly profit from, or are complicit in IUU fishing” and, at the same time, the priority flag state “is willing, but lacks the capacity, to monitor or take effective enforcement action against its fleet.”
It is likely the Coast Guard will be spending time helping these states build capacity in their navies, coast guards, or maritime police.
The Missing Air Element
One of the great strengths of the US Coast Guard is its fleet of fixed wing aircraft. They provide an essential detection capability. An air search capability allows the patrol vessels to do less searching and more boardings. Most smaller nations’ maritime law enforcement agencies have only limited, or in many cases, no comparable organic air search capability. Frequently, if they are to have an air search, they require cooperation of another service.
What I have seen of our capacity building efforts, seem to have been focused on surface operations and boarding team work.
Recognizing fishing vessels is not in the skill set of most air force crews. Frequently communications between surface vessels and air units are not compatible. In many air forces their aircraft virtually never go out over blue water.
The US Coast Guard could certainly help build capacity on the air side, as well as the surface side of the IUU fishing problem.
Land based Unmanned Air Systems now appear to be a way maritime law enforcement agencies might have an organic fixed wing air search capability at a lower cost. Unfortunately the US Coast Guard still is not particularly experienced in this area. The Japanese Coast Guard might be able to provide valuable advice to at least Taiwan and Vietnam in the use of UAS, as they gain experience with their newly acquired MQ-9Bs.