With a mission to support U.S. allies in the Pacific, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) cutter Mellon has set off to protect fisheries near Fiji. Onboard the Mellon, officers from Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) assisted USCG personnel in enforcing the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of “Fiji and the island nations of Kiribati, Tokelau, Vanuatu, and Tuvalu” throughout the last several weeks.

“The U.S. Coast Guard and the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans have a long history of working together to ensure the viability of fish stocks off North America. Working with experts from Canada and regional leaders like Fiji is vital to ensuring food security and the rule of law in Oceania. Working together we are helping to ensure a more secure, free, and open Indo-Pacific.”

Although the Mellon’s crew did train some fisheries officers from Fiji and other countries, the primary goal of the deployment was to interrupt what the USCG calls “illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.” According to a press release from the USCG, IUU fishing robs “billions of dollars” from legitimate fishermen around the world. In total, nearly 30 percent of fishing conducted globally is IUU.

Canada’s Air Force committed a CP-140 Aurora fixed-wing aircraft to provide maritime domain awareness for Coast Guard Cutter Mellon (WHEC 717) boarding teams over two weeks, as well as delivering fishery enforcement operations for several regional Pacific Island countries in early 2019. (Photo courtesy Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans/Released

“Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing threatens food security, impacts the sustainability of fisheries, and causes irreparable damage to marine and freshwater ecosystems across the globe. Partnerships, like this one with Canada’s Department of National Defence and the United States Coast Guard, are the key to tackling IUU fishing that threatens many vulnerable coastal communities. We will continue to work with other countries and assist small island developing states in combating IUU fishing to increase security and protect the health of fish stocks around the world,” said the Honorable Jonathan Wilkinson, the Canadian Coast Guard’s minister of fisheries.