Coast Guard Cutter Returns from Far East

ALAMEDA, Calif. –The Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell returns to its homeport of Alameda after a 108-day deployment to the Far East.

Boutwell was deployed as the U.S. Coast Guard representative to the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum, a six-nation body created to combat international illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing on the Northern Pacific Ocean. The member nations of the forum include Canada, Russia, South Korea, Japan, China and the United States. The 168-person crew made stops in Honolulu; Midway Island; Shanghai, China; Yokosuka, Japan; Petropavlovsk, Russia; and Nagoya, Japan.

In support of forum activities, Boutwell held three international engagements with China, Russia and Japan; participated in three international search and rescue (SAR) exercises; and two law enforcement demonstrations. In addition to the extensive international engagements, Boutwell conducted Law Enforcement patrols across the Northern Pacific Ocean. Enforcing United Nations agreements supporting a ban on high-seas drift net fishing, Boutwell located and seized six vessels suspected of illegal fishing. In all, Boutwell traveled over 21,000 nautical miles, seized over 31 miles of drift net, and detained over 150 fishermen over a span of 108 days. Throughout these seizures, boarding team members from Boutwell maintained a constant 24-hour custody watch over the vessels and crews, until their transfer to Chinese Fisheries Law Enforcement Command (FLEC) authorities.

“The seizures that were made with the Chinese Fisheries Law Enforcement Command, Japan Coast Guard and Canadian Armed Forces, show that the threat of illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing is still out there and it may be growing, and that international cooperation to suppress it remains very important,” said Capt. Peter Brown, commanding officer of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell.

Joining Boutwell for the patrol was a HH-65 helicopter and six-man aviation detachment stationed at Barbers Point, Hawaii. While conducting a SAR exercise with the Japanese Coast Guard Cutter Mizuho, the HH-65 became the first U.S. Coast Guard helicopter to land on a Japanese Cutter. The aviation detachment proved vital to the success of the patrol by repeatedly spotting potential illegal fishing vessels.

“The Boutwell has made a very long voyage for the purpose of deterring high-seas drift net fishing, but also to provide an outreach to the nations involved in the forum,” said Admiral Charles Wurster, Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area. “With a port call in Shanghai, China, we’ve cemented our relationship with the China Coast Guard.”

A drift net is a fishing net that has the ability to indiscriminately catch massive amounts of fish and other marine life by means of suspension in open water. The U.S. Coast Guard participates in the international cooperative efforts against high-seas drift net fishing as encouraged by the United Nations. The term IUU fishing describes a wide range of destructive fishing activities, which includes use of large-scale high-seas drift nets. Many maritime nations, including the United States, have undertaken to monitor and deter IUU fishing, and protect shared living marine resources and their environments. IUU fishing is considered to be one of the main obstacles to sustainable world fisheries and healthy oceans ecosystems.

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