US Navy works with Coast Guard for joint fisheries patrol

USS William P.Lawrence, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer of the U.S. Navy, recently embarked a Coast Guard law enforcement detachment to conduct fisheries patrols in the Central and South Pacific Ocean.

The patrols were conducted within the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative.

William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) and the embarked Coast Guard detachment conducted eight fisheries enforcement boardings with the assistance of the Navy’s visit, board, search and seizure team and enforcement shipriders from the Republic of Marshall Islands and Nauru.

Six of the boardings were conducted on the high seas under the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission guidelines. One alleged violation of the WCPFC conservation management measures was documented as a fishing vessel’s automatic location communicator, which is part of the vessel monitoring system, appeared to be disabled. The case was turned over to the flag state for further investigation. VMS allows authorities to monitor movement, location and compliance of commercial fishing vessels in the WCPFC convention area.

Partnership between the Coast Guard and Navy supports OMSI, a Secretary of Defense program to use Department of Defense assets transiting the pacific region to build maritime domain awareness, ultimately supporting the Coast Guard’s maritime law enforcement operations in Oceania.

Navy Cmdr. Walter C. Mainor, commanding officer, USS William P. Lawrence, said: “OMSI was a great opportunity to engage with pacific island nations and to continue building our relationships and partnerships in the region. It was a privilege to be 3rd Fleet’s OMSI platform and operate forward in the region.”

Coast Guard Cmdr. Richard Howes, chief of enforcement, Coast Guard 14th District response division, explained: “Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing undermines efforts to conserve and manage global fish stocks. U.S. partnerships with Australia, New Zealand, France, and Pacific Island Nations deters illegal fishing and promotes economic and environmental stability in the region — this is the foundation for OMSI and promotes a healthy ocean today and for future generations.”