US Navy, Coast Guard conclude joint Pacific patrol

Members from U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment 103 approach a foreign flagged fishing vessel during an OMSI boarding mission. Photo: US Navy

The U.S. Navy hosted Coast Guard personnel for an 18-day joint mission in the Central and South Pacific to combat transnational crimes, enforce fisheries laws and enhance regional security.

Under the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative, Coast Guard law enforcement detachment 103 from Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team embarked USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) and conducted 16 fisheries enforcement boardings with the assistance of the ship’s visit, board, search and seizure team and law enforcement ship riders from Tuvalu and Nauru.

Five of the boardings were conducted on the high seas under the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission guidelines while the other 11 were conducted in the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of Tuvalu and Nauru.

Coast Guard teams and Pacific Island Nation shipriders routinely conduct joint boardings within the host country’s exclusive economic zones to protect the ocean and the living marine resources within.

Boarding teams inspected documentation and fish holds for illegal activity and compliance with conservation and management measures.

“Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing undermines efforts to conserve and manage global fish stocks,” said Coast Guard Cmdr. Richard Howes, chief of enforcement, Coast Guard 14th District response division. “The OMSI mission along with our partnerships with Australia, New Zealand, France, and Pacific Island Nations helps deter illegal fishing and promote economic and environmental stability in the region.”

Partnership between the Coast Guard and Navy supports OMSI, a Secretary of Defense program to use Department of Defense assets transiting the pacific region to build maritime domain awareness, ultimately supporting the Coast Guard’s maritime law enforcement operations in Oceania.

The Coast Guard is responsible for patrolling the waters around the numerous islands belonging to the United States throughout the region. Each of these islands has territorial waters stretching out to 12 nautical miles from shore.

Beyond that, stretching out to 200 nautical miles is an exclusive economic zone, an area defined by international law that allows each nation exclusive rights to the exploration and use of the marine resources within. Oceania contains 43 percent, or approximately 1.3 million square miles, of United States’ EEZs.

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