Coast Guard and Chinese Fisheries Enforcement Cooperation Intercepts 3 Chinese Drift Net Fishing Vessel

NORTH PACIFIC OCEAN, Oct. 11, 2007 – The U.S. Coast Guard and People’s Republic of China Fisheries Law Enforcement Command (FLEC) are investigating three fishing vessels suspected of illegal high-seas drift net fishing 400 miles east of Hokkaido, Japan.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell with a FLEC officer onboard intercepted the fishing vessels Lu Rong Yu 2659, 2660, and 6105 Friday after an HH-65 helicopter, deployed with Boutwell from Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii, identified the three vessels as possible high-seas drift net fishing vessels.

All vessels were intercepted by a joint China/U.S. boarding team from the cutter Boutwell. Once onboard the vessels, the boarding teams determined that all the vessels were rigged for high-seas drift net fishing and were all registered in the People’s Republic of China. The master of one vessel admitted to the boarding team to having 9,000 meters of nets onboard.

The Boutwell has transferred custody of the three vessels to the 378-foot U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Midgett, which is scheduled to transfer the fishing vessels to the Chinese FLEC Saturday.

“The presence of a Chinese Fisheries Law Enforcement Command ship rider on board Boutwell expedited the boarding and seizure process, basically allowing the Chinese to enforce Chinese law on a Chinese vessel,” said Capt. Michael Neussl, Chief of Staff for the 17th Coast Guard District in Juneau, Alaska. “The value of international agreements to facilitate these joint operations is phenomenal.”

The United States, Japan, Canada, Russia, South Korea and China are part of the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum. This Forum was developed to combat Illegal Unregulated and Unreported fishing and increase international maritime safety and security of the Northern Pacific Ocean and its borders.

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 U.S., 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.

Boutwell and Midgett are 378-foot high endurance cutters based out of Alameda, Calif., and Seattle, respectively. Both cutters are operating under the tactical control of the 17th District.

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