U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area Commander Vice Admiral Linda Fagan, in a teleconference with regional media, said that the agency continues to work with partner nations in the Western and Central Pacific to curb illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.
Fagan said they support this effort through the deployment of cutters that are operated under bilateral ship-rider agreements. Fagan said the U.S. Coast Guard has agreements with the Marshall Islands, the FSM, Palau, and eight other Pacific island nations. They are also in the process of signing an agreement with Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
“I mentioned that we have a number of bilateral fisheries ship-rider agreements which allows a Pacific Island nation enforcement officer to embark on a Coast Guard vessel. What that does is it allows that Pacific Island nation law enforcement officer to bring their authority and we provide the access into their EEZs (Exclusive Economic Zone), and the platform for them to actually do the boarding and the enforcement against vessels that might have done an incursion and been fishing, where they are not supposed to,” Fagan said.
According to information from the U.S. Coast Guard, it is estimated that illegal fishing accounts for about 30 percent of all fishing activities worldwide. This represents up to 26 million tons of fish illegally harvested each year, valued between $10 billion to $23 billion.
During the teleconference, Fagan also spoke about the Coast Guard’s other programs to partner with countries in the Pacific area to improve maritime security, safety, and governance – through capacity building, professional exchanges, and joint exercises and operations – all in support of securing a free and open Indo-Pacific.