Two fishing vessels seized during international law enforcement patrol

USCG Cutter Sequoia file photo

APRA HARBOR, Guam – Crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Sequoia returned home to Apra Harbor after a two month-long patrol, March 3, 2011.

The crew, having travelled more than 5,000 nautical miles throughout remote areas within the Pacific Ocean, conducted law enforcement patrols and performed aids to navigation maintenance in the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau.

Exercising a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and the Republic of Palau, the crew brought aboard a shiprider from the Palau Maritime Police. The bilateral agreement is a cooperative effort between the U.S. and Palau to protect living marine resources in Palau’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

While on their patrol, crewmembers aboard the Sequoia detected two vessels well within Palau’s EEZ. Under the authority of the Palauan officer, and with the officer’s help, a boarding team from the Sequoia was deployed to inspect both vessels individually.

The first boarding was conducted on a small fishing vessel that was tied off to a Fish Aggregating Device, a large buoy that is left to drift for several months to attract fish, which is strictly prohibited in Palauan waters. The Philippine flagged vessel had no permit to fish in Palauan waters. The Palauan officer ordered the vessel to exit the EEZ and return to the Philippines.

The second boarded vessel, though larger, didn’t have any fishing permits and was rigged to deploy FAD’s as well. After conferring with Palauan Maritime Police Officials, the Palauan shiprider seized the vessel. Boarding officers discovered that the smaller vessel, previously boarded, was affiliated with the second vessel. Both vessels were seized.

While escorting both vessels to Koror, Palau, one vessel suffered an engine casualty. Engineers aboard the Sequoia provided assistance and made repairs. Days later, the vessel ran out of fuel, to which Sequoia’s crew conducted a complicated at-sea refueling evolution.

Upon arrival after five days, custody of both vessels was transferred to the Palau Maritime Police.

“It felt great to assist Palau and seize two vessels that were illegally fishing in their waters. Long patrols feel much shorter when you know that we are actively preventing unlicensed fishing,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Bradley Murray, a Boatswain’s Mate aboard the Sequoia.

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