An international law enforcement task force operating off the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf has boarded 15 vessels, identifying 32 potential violations of international fishery regulations.
Included in those vessels in violation of regulations were three ships operating in concert with more than 450 shark fins aboard, according to the Coast Guard.
“These boardings are in support of a multinational coordinated effort to stop illegal fishing in international waters,” said the commander of Coast Guard District 17, Rear Adm. Nathan Moore, in a news release. “Failing to comply with authorized boardings unnecessarily escalates the situation at sea. I look forward to seeing how the responsible flag states uphold the agreed upon governance structure and hold their vessels accountable for these serious violations.”
Other vessels in the fleet refused access to the boarding, which also constitutes a violation under the regulations of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and North Pacific Fisheries Commission, which govern the areas the vessels were operating in.
Fisheries enforcement officers came from the Coast Guard, Canada and the Republic of Korea, according to the news release. Violations of international fisheries law are referred to the vessel’s flag state for investigation and censure, as necessary, according to the news release.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing poses a major threat to global maritime security, according to the news release, and requires a strong response to confront “predatory and irresponsible actions in international fisheries.”
The violations were identified as part of Operation North Pacific Guard, an annual counter-IUU fishing operation.