Coast Guard participates in international forum focused on Pacific maritime threats

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia – The United States participated Sept. 30 to Oct. 4 in the 20th meeting of the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum (NPCGF) Summit in Vladivostok.

The annual event brings together delegations from the coast guards of Canada, China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States. Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Pacific Area commander, was the head of the U.S. delegation.

“Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, search and rescue, illegal drug trafficking and pollution response are just some of the critical issues we face as maritime nations,” said Fagan. “This multilateral forum is an excellent opportunity to discuss these shared challenges and to find ways to increase our effectiveness through cooperation.”

In effect since 2000, the NPCGF was established to foster multilateral cooperation related to combined operations, exchange of information, illegal drug trafficking, maritime security, fisheries enforcement, illegal migration and maritime domain awareness. The forum includes numerous working groups, each focused on specific threat areas, which plan joint operations and major exercises.

A priority goal of the NPCGF is the planning of next year’s Operation North Pacific Guard (NPG). NPG is a deployment each summer of vessels, aviation assets and personnel to help combat IUU fishing in the northern Pacific Ocean.

According to the UN, IUU fishing deprives the international economy of billions of dollars and undermines the livelihoods of legitimate fish harvesters around the world. It impacts food security, affecting millions of people, including many vulnerable coastal communities. Combatting global IUU fishing through international partnerships is a priority for the United States.

NPG 2019 was designed to conduct law enforcement operations in support of regional fisheries management organizations in the North Pacific Ocean. Through the NPCGF enforcement coordination process, partner nations contribute to the at-sea enforcement effort by providing surface patrols, air surveillance or both.

In support of NPG 2019, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mellon, conducted an 80-day fisheries patrol. Coast Guard and Canadian fishery officers boarded 45 vessels and encountered violations ranging from improper gear to intentionally fishing for sharks without a license. Boarding officers also found evidence of illegal shark finning. Altogether, boarding teams detected 68 potential violations.

“Building and expanding partnerships is a priority for the United States Coast Guard and a strategic priority of our commandant, Adm. Schultz,” said Fagan, in her closing remarks. “To achieve this priority, we remain committed to this forum, as well as other multi-lateral forums and our respective bi-lateral relationships.”

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