Most of fleet flees after Coast Guard boardings on high seas

During a recent nearly two-month patrol of the North Pacific Ocean to detect and deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, the U.S. Coast Guard said that after boarding 11 fishing vessels from four different nations that nearly the entire fleet of 31 vessels fled the area.

The boardings were conducted by the Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro over 12,500 miles of the North Pacific Ocean. Crew aboard the Douglas Munro observed that nearly all of the fleet, including three Chinese flagged squid fishing vessels, stopped fishing and fled hundreds of nautical miles west across the ocean to avoid further inspection.

IUU fishing is a pervasive security threat that undermines international agreements and fisheries conservation measures, jeopardizes global food security and has destabilizing impact on vulnerable coastal states.

For the past 25 years Japan, China, Russia, South Korea, Canada and the United States have partnered for Operation North Pacific Guard to uphold international maritime governance and support legally binding conservation and management measures adopted by several Regional Fisheries Management Organizations to protect migratory fish stocks on the high seas.

Participating nations contribute surface and air patrols and share intelligence that facilitates at-sea inspections targeting IUU fishing activity. The U.S. Coast Guard leads the effort with a C-130 aircraft and a surface asset with an embarked MH-65 helicopter.

Violations detected and information gathered in 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 17th District.