HONOLULU — The Coast Guard and Navy completed a 24-day joint mission in the Western and Central Pacific under the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative to combat transnational crimes, enforce fisheries laws and enhance regional security, Wednesday.
A Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment from Tactical Law Enforcement Team Pacific embarked USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) and conducted 11 fisheries enforcement boardings with the assistance of the ship’s visit, board, search and seizure team and law enforcement shipriders from the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
All boardings were conducted in the exclusive economic zones; eight were in Federated States of Micronesia and four in Republic of the Marshall Islands.
Coast Guard teams and Pacific Island Nation shipriders routinely conduct combined boardings within the host country’s exclusive economic zones to protect the ocean and the living marine resources within.
Boarding teams conducted inspections of the vessels to ensure compliance with individual nation’s laws and regulations and conservation management measures.
“The goal of combined efforts by the Navy and Coast Guard through the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative mission is to combat transnational crime threats, including narco-trafficking, human trafficking, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,” Lt. Cmdr. Kenji Awamura, district response enforcement operations planner at Coast Guard 14th District. “In keeping with USS Michael Murphy’s motto, OMSI ‘Leads the Fight’ in combating these activities. IUU fishing undermines efforts to conserve and manage global fish stocks and negatively impacts economies of Oceania States. In partnership with Australia, New Zealand, France, and the Pacific Island nations, OMSI promotes economic and environmental stability throughout Oceania.”
Partnership between the Coast Guard and Navy supports OMSI, a Secretary of Defense program to use Department of Defense assets transiting the Pacific region to build maritime domain awareness, ultimately supporting the Coast Guard’s maritime law enforcement operations in Oceania.
“I am proud to say that the crew performed superbly across all mission areas as well as being tremendous ambassadors afloat and ashore for the United States throughout our deployment,” said Cmdr. Kevin Louis, commanding officer of USS Michael Murphy.
The Coast Guard is responsible for patrolling the waters around the numerous islands belonging to the United States throughout the region. Each of these islands has territorial waters stretching out to 12 nautical miles from shore. Beyond that, stretching out to 200 nautical miles is an exclusive economic zone, an area defined by international law that allows each nation exclusive rights to the exploration and use of the marine resources within.
Oceania contains 43 percent, or approximately 1.3 million square miles, of United States’ EEZs.