The Coast Guard cutter Juniper returned to its Honolulu homeport in late February following a mission in the Pacific to deter illegal fishing, among other goals, as part of Operation Blue Pacific.
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.
The Juniper departed Honolulu in mid-January and covered about 8,200 nautical miles in the effort to assist Pacific Island partners in protecting maritime governance and international order.
“Combining efforts to deter illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing throughout Oceania is more important than ever,” the Juniper’s commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Bonner, said.
The Juniper welcomed four Fijian shipriders representing Fiji’s Police Force, Ministry of Fisheries, Revenue and Customs and the Republic of Fiji Navy. The personnel spent multiple days underway with the crew.
With support from members of the Juniper, USCG TACLET Pacific, and a Mandarin linguist from the U.S. Marine Corps, the Fijian shipriders were able to utilize cutter resources to patrol Fijian waters and conduct a fishery boarding in the effort to deter IUU fishing within their EEZ.
After departing Fiji, the Juniper crew transited to American Samoa where they serviced multiple aids to navigation (ATON) in Pago Pago Harbor and on Ta’u Island.
“Servicing ATON in the Pacific is essential to providing the needed infrastructure to maintain a maritime transportation system that promotes economic prosperity and an uninterrupted flow of maritime commerce,” said Lt. j.g. Pryor Miller, the Juniper’s operations officer.
Throughout the patrol, Juniper boarding teams conducted multiple boardings and observation reports of fishing vessels under the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), which strives to protect the region’s fish stocks on the high seas.
The WCPFC has 26 member nations and seven participating territories, 18 of which have enforcing authority, including the U.S.
The Juniper, a 225-foot seagoing buoy tender, is responsible for maintaining aids to navigation, performing maritime law enforcement, port and coastal security, searches and rescues and environmental protection.