Dual Fisheries Enforcement Operations Conclude in the Pacific

Concurrent operations have concluded in the North and South Pacific aimed at tackling Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. Operation Kurukuru was conducted in the South Pacific between the 23rd of October and the 4th of November. Kurukuru was organised and executed by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA). Meanwhile, further north, Operation North Pacific Guard took place from early September through to early November and involved personnel from Canada, Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and the United States. 

U.S. Coast Guard HC-130J Super Hercules assigned to Air Station Kodiak, Alaska, arrives at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Aug. 12, 2021, in support of the Operation North Pacific Guard. (U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

During Operation North Pacific Guard, teams from the U.S, Canada, Japan and South Korea, boarded, searched and investigated several vessels, eventually identifying 42 violations of the relevant Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) rules. According to a Canadian Fisheries and Oceans release, these violators will be referred to their vessels flag state to face enforcement action. If these vessels are running flags of convenience (FoCs), as much of the global fishing fleet does, it is unlikely that many, if any, of the violators will face serious repercussions

Crews aboard U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf prepare to board a fishing vessel in the North Pacific on Sep. 21, 2021. The Bertholf crew was patrolling in support of Operation North Pacific Guard, the Coast Guard’s component of a multilateral fisheries law enforcement operation designed to detect and deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activity. – U.S. Coast Guard photo.

USCGC Bertholf (WMSL-750) led the operation, which was also supported by aircraft, including a Canadian Fisheries and Oceans Dash-8 flown out of Japan. 

Further South, United States Coast Guard (USCG) Fast Response Cutters USCGC William Hart (WPC-1134) and Myrtle Hazard (WPC-1139) participated in Operation Kurukuru, organised by the Forum Fisheries Agency.

Petty Officer Mark Kaiguguia of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force work together with HMAS Wollongong’s boatswain department during training drills on the Ship’s Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat during Operation Solania. (Commonwealth of Australia)

Operation Kurukuru involved over 20 vessels, 15 of which were of the Guardian or Pacific class. Pacific Quad members (Australia, France, New Zealand and the United States) also contributed a further five vessels. Seven aircraft, including a USCG HC-130, also took part in the operation which spanned 23 million square kilometers of sea and 15 exclusive economic zones.

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak HC-130 Hercules aircrew takes off from an airstrip in Sitka, Alaska, Nov. 16, 2020. The Kodiak aircrew delivered aircraft parts. Courtesy photo by Don Kluting.

During Operation Kurukuru, 300 vessels were sighted by air, space, or sea and 78 were boarded, either while underway or at port. The FFA hasn’t publicly released what percentage of vessels, if any, were found to be engaging in illegal or suspicious behaviour. 

Cover Image Courtesy Commonwealth of Australia.