Second U.S. Coast Guard vessel arrives for fisheries mission
The US Coast Guard vessel the Cutter Joseph Gerczak has sailed into Matautu Wharf to continue as Operation Aiga, a mission to enforce maritime laws inside Samoa’s Exclusive Economic Zone (E.E.Z.), continues this month.
“We are responding to requests from the Governments of Samoa and American Samoa and we are happy to fulfil that request and come out here to help in any way we can and supplement the law enforcement here,” Operations Officer Brandon Horacek said.
Captain James Provost said any illegal fishing vessels encountered on patrol would be issued with hefty fines.
The Joseph Gerczak arrived on Sunday will be in Samoa for the next few days to work with local authorities in patrolling Samoa’s E.E.Z. before departing for American Samoa and Hawaii later this month.
Meanwhile, the US Coast Guard hailed the success of a three-day port call of another vessel, the Cutter Walnut, in Apia last week following the completion of joint patrols of Samoan waters.
The Coast Guard Cutter Walnut joined forces with shipriders from the Ministry of Police and Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in a patrol to enforce maritime laws inside Samoa's Exclusive Economic Zone last week.
"We had an excellent port call here in Apia and opportunities to engage with the Government of Samoa [...] and the students of Lufilufi Primary School," said Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Jasnoch, Commanding Officer of the Cutter Walnut.
In addition to their engagements with law enforcement, a community outreach programme and an official reception, the Coast Guard also held meetings with the Pacific Transnational Crime Coordination Center and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
"We were pleased to have so many honoured guests and our shipriders join us ahead of this patrol," said Lt. Cmdr. Christopher.
The crew took on shipriders from Samoa's Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to deter illegal fishing in the waters.
The patrol effort was undertaken as Samoa upgrades its fleet, with the expected addition of a new maritime patrol vessel in October.
"We are pleased to provide this presence and work with our partners to support our allies and neighbours in the Pacific, essential to a free and open Indo-Pacific," said Lt. Cmdr. Christopher.
The Coast Guard is in Samoa is also the first step in a broader plan, known as Operation Aiga, to enhance American relationships in the Pacific.
The Coast Guard exercises 11 bilateral shiprider agreements with Pacific Island Forum nations with exercises focused on promotion regional security.