After two months and 12,500 miles, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro crew members recently came back from patrolling in support of Operation North Pacific Guard, an effort to enforce U.S. fisheries international law and stop illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.
The Cutter Munro crew boarded 11 fishing vessels for inspection and discovered 14 possible violations, including serious instances on three Chinese-flagged squid fishing vessels. “Following these boardings, nearly the entire fleet of 31 vessels stopped fishing and fled hundreds of nautical miles west across the Pacific Ocean, avoiding further inspection,” according to the agency.
“The violations detected and information gathered during this year’s operation highlight the need for robust maritime enforcement presence on the high seas,” said Capt. Jason Brennell, chief of enforcement for the Coast Guard’s Seventeenth District.
For 25 years, countries in the North Pacific Rim such as Japan, China, Russia, South Korea, Canada, and the U.S. have teamed up for Operation North Pacific Guard to maintain international maritime governance and uphold conservation and management rules adopted by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, the USCG said.
“The westward evasive movement of the fishing fleet indicates and potentially validates suspected illicit activity, and further demonstrates the need for more than a single vessel deployed to compel compliance at sea,” Brennell said. “Increased commitment from all partner countries to provide at-sea enforcement capability, particularly those nations whose vessels are engaged in fishing, is absolutely critical to both the health of world fish stocks and the future success of Operation North Pacific Guard.”