Guam – From August 16–26 patrol boats from Coast Guard Sector Guam, the Republic of Palau, Papua New Guinea, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, and Kiribati participated in “Operation Island Chief,” a multinational exercise aimed at curtailing illegal, undocumented, and unreported fishing within the Western Pacific. The exercise utilized the Coast Guard Cutters Assateague and Sequoia, and seven Pacific patrol boats from various island nations, along with aerial support from the U.S. Navy Commander Task Force 72.
This exercise leveraged partnerships with the 14th Coast Guard District, the U.S. Navy, Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, and the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission to locate, identify, and verify the licenses and documentation of hundreds of fishing vessels. Taking place over the various Pacific Island Nation exclusive economic zones, this is the most complex Operation Island Chief conducted to-date.
More than 350 fishing vessels were monitored during the operation. Ninety nine vessels were sighted and 20 boarded. Crews from the Coast Guard Cutter Sequoia identified 10 violations of WCPFC regulations for 2 foreign fishing vessels on the high seas, forwarding case packages to the vessels flag state for prosecution.
The operation also made strong use of Shiprider Agreements enacted between the various governments. These agreements allow Coast Guard cutters to assist foreign nations by providing a platform for the officers of that country to conduct law enforcement operations within their exclusive economic zone, staging from the Coast Guard cutter. Officers from Palau and Federated States of Micronesia were embarked aboard Coast Guard Cutters Assateague and Sequoia for the entirety of Operation Island Chief.
The Republic of Palau and Federated States of Micronesia rely on a healthy fishing industry and enforcement of fishing regulations in their exclusive economic zone to maintain a strong economy. By conducting joint exercises, Coast Guard Sector Guam and its Micronesian partner agencies increase their overall law enforcement effectiveness and share knowledge and techniques that enhance regional security.