Coast Guard Cutter Munro Conducts First-Ever WCPFC High-Seas Boarding

JUNEAU, Alaska – Coast Guardsmen aboard the Cutter Munro, homeported in Kodiak, Alaska, conducted the first-ever high seas boarding and inspection of a fishing vessel Tuesday under the authority of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

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.

Munro’s crew boarded the fishing vessel Tokuei Maru 17 out of Yaizu, Japan, 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 this being the first high seas boarding conducted pursuant to specific WCPFC guidelines, the boarding and investigation process went smoothly, without incident and the Coast Guard boarding team did not find any violations.

“We found no violations of WCPFC conservation and management measures, the crew was very friendly and the master very cooperative,” said Lt. Ellen Motoi, the weapons division officer aboard the Munro and the boarding officer in charge of the boarding team that conducted the investigation on board the Japanese fishing vessel.

The team’s investigative report was sent to the Coast Guard’s 17th District headquarters in Juneau, Alaska, 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.

“This is a great step forward, both in terms of international cooperation and effective mission execution for Coast Guard vessels in the operations area,” said Munro’s Commanding Officer Capt. Craig Lloyd.

The WCPFC convention was adopted Sept. 5, 2000, in Honolulu, and includes more than 30 nations and territories, including the United States and Japan. WCPFC convention area tuna catch for 2006 amounted to 78 percent of the total Pacific Ocean catch and more than 51 percent of the global tuna catch. This catch is worth more than $3 billion annually.

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