Coast Guard Cutter Assists With Unmanned Aircraft Tests

MARINA DEL REY, Calif. — Last week the Coast Guard Cutter Halibut, an 87 foot coastal patrol boat, homeported in Marina del Rey, provided support for trials of unmanned aircraft in the northern Channel Islands.

A team from various state and federal agencies, including the National Ocean and Atmospheric Agency NOAA along with the Cutter Halibut tested the feasibility of utilizing unmanned aircraft to obtain data in “marine protected areas.”

“Marine protected area” is a term for a defined region with unique conservation and management regulations. In our region, there are two marine protected areas that are looked at more closely by federal, state and local officials: Carrington Point and Profile Point.

Agencies such as Coast Guard, California Department of Fish and Game, NOAA, National Park Service, and the local squid fishing fleet look at these particular marine protected areas as places where natural and cultural resources are given greater oversight than the surrounding waters because of their concentration of squid.

It is because of this dense population that the need to sustain the critical habitat and marine resources is so important. Due to the availability of squid in the marine protected areas, there have been numerous reports of incursions by fisherman landing squid in the “hundreds of tons” in these areas.

The Halibut was equipped with a remote video terminal that allowed the agencies to monitor the video and data observed by the Unmanned Aircraft Systems at distances up to 10 nautical miles. California Department of Fish and Game Wardens remained onboard the cutter and the NOAA Vessel Shearwater analyzed the capabilities of the technology.

Lt. Paul Miller, Commanding Officer of Halibut stated, “I am grateful of NOAA and the California Department of Fish and Game for including Halibut in the pre-employment stage and testing of this technology. Technology such as the Unmanned Aircraft Systems will allow us to work safer and smarter in a biologically and operationally diverse area of Southern California.”

The two full days of operations and testing yielded promising results for NOAA’s interagency initiative in California’s Northern Channel Islands. The Coast Guard looks forward to these partnerships and working in our mission area of Living Marine Resource Enforcement,.

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