Cutter Jarvis conducts WCPFC high-seas boarding

JUNEAU, Alaska – Coast Guardsmen aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Jarvis conducted a high-seas boarding and inspection of a Japanese-flagged fishing vessel Monday under the authority of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission finding no violation under existing regulations.

Jarvis’ crew boarded the fishing vessel Koei Maru No. 31, a 93-foot tuna long-liner, on the high seas of the Pacific and conducted an inspection of the ship, its catch, fishing gear and all relevant documentation to ensure it was operating in compliance with the provisions of the convention and the conservation and management measures adopted by the WCPFC.

Despite being one of only a few high-seas boardings conducted pursuant to specific WCPFC guidelines, the Coast Guard boarding team did not find any violations and the vessel was in compliance. The first WCPFC boarding took place in August 2008 when the Kodiak-based Coast Guard Cutter Munro boarded the Tokuei Maru 17. No violations were reported from that boarding.

The WCPFC is a regional fisheries management organization whose objective is to ensure, through effective management, the long-term conservation and sustainable use of highly migratory fish stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. This convention area stretches across the WCPO from the south coast of Australia to the Bering Sea. This management is increasingly important as researchers question the health of the Pacific Tuna stocks.

“The Koei Maru No. 31 was retaining swordfish, yellow fin tuna and sharks and was found to be in compliance with all WCPFC conservation measures for these species.” said Lt. Justin Forbes, with the Coast Guard Seventeenth District Enforcement Division. “The Jarvis is currently patrolling the North Pacific in support of the Coast Guard Seventeenth District’s mission to enforce international agreements designed to protect high seas fish stocks from illegal fishing. Although the Coast Guard routinely conducts WCPFC in the Central Pacific, this is only the second WCPFC boarding to be conducted by a cutter working for the Seventeenth District in Alaska.”

The Jarvis’ inspection report was sent to Coast Guard District Seventeen in Juneau where it was reviewed and forwarded to the government of Japan and the convention’s commission headquarters in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. With the ever increasing demand on the world fisheries stocks, international joint management under the WCPFC holds significant potential for improved oversight of highly migratory fisheries, such as tuna, covered by the WCPFC.

The WCPFC convention was adopted Sept. 5, 2000, in Honolulu, and includes more than 30 nations and territories, including the United States and Japan.

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