Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island returns home from successful fisheries patrol

A boarding team from the USCGC Galveston Island (WPB 1349), homeported in Honolulu, approaches the 71-foot commercial fishing vessel Lady Ann Margaret for a fisheries boarding more than 350 miles off Oahu in support of the Coast Guard's Ocean Guardian Strategy March, 4, 2016. While on patrol with a NOAA National Marine Fisheries agent aboard, the crew conducted nine joint boardings resulting in two documented cases of illegal fishing. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Calsea Clemens/Released)

A boarding team from the USCGC Galveston Island approaches the fishing vessel Lady Ann Margaret  March, 4, 2016.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Calsea Clemens)

HONOLULU — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island (WPB 1349), a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in Honolulu, returned to Coast Guard Base Honolulu after a week long fisheries patrol in the Pacific Ocean, Sunday.

“This patrol directly supports our mission under our Ocean Guardian Strategy to protect the nation’s living marine resources by employing the right tools in the right place at the right time,” said Lt. Cmdr. James Bendle, chief of enforcement, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu.

While on patrol with an Enforcement Officer from NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement aboard, the crew conducted nine joint boardings resulting in two cases of apparently illegal fishing being referred to NOAA for possible prosecution.

“The Pacific Islands Division of NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement has a long and continuous working relationship with our U.S. Coast Guard colleagues throughout the Hawaiian Islands and the Pacific,” said Bill Pickering, assistant director, NOAA OLE Pacific Islands Division. “This just concluded successful joint patrol operation aboard the USCGC Galveston is another fine example of both agencies’ commitments to fulfill our international agreements and preserve the natural marine resources that surround our islands.”

Galveston Island’s boarding team conducted boardings on the 77-foot commercial fishing vessel Captain D and the 71-foot commercial fishing vessel Lady Ann Margaret, both more than 350 miles off Oahu. Neither vessel had the federal permit required to fish on the high seas. The master of the Captain D was advised to return to the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, an area in which the vessel was allowed to fish, if the vessel intended to continue fishing. The master of the Lady Ann Margaret was directed to return to port due to numerous safety violations.

Both alleged fisheries violation cases are being investigated by NOAA OLE, who will handle any subsequent actions.

“The efforts of the Galveston Island crew during this deployment highlighted the Coast Guard’s commitment to sustaining Western and Central Pacific fisheries while ensuring safety among our fishing fleet and strengthening relationships with our NOAA partners,” said Bendle.

The Coast Guard’s priorities under the Ocean Guardian Strategy are to: protect the U.S. EEZ from foreign encroachment, enforce domestic living marine resource laws, and ensure compliance with international agreements.

Commissioned in 1992, Galveston Island is the last of 49 Island Class cutters built to replace the 95-foot Cape Class cutters. With a 17 person mixed-gender crew and an operating range exceeding 2,300 miles, it is an excellent platform to conduct search and rescue response, ports waterways and coastal security operations, and to enforce the laws and treaties of the United States.

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