There could be more United States coast guard activity in the Pacific in the coming months, says the Commanding Officer of the USCGC Munro, Captain Blake Novak in Suva.
Fresh from conducting raids in the Fijian waters under Operation Blue Pacific, the US ship is berthed in Suva, Fiji.
This has been seen by many as the United States’ attempt to have more presence in the region over growing concerns about China’s increasing role in the Pacific.
On Tuesday, a security deal between China and Solomon Islands was agreed upon.
For the past week, the USCGC Munro was in Fiji waters with five Fijian government agency officials. They boarded ships and checked if maritime laws were being adhered to. This is part of the United States Operation Blue Pacific.
Capt. Novak said the deployment aims to counter illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and strengthen relationships to enhance maritime sovereignty and security throughout the region.
When asked if there would be more US Coast Guard presence in the Pacific, Captain Novak said he believed so.
“I think the Coast Guard is committed to our Pacific island nations and maritime governance,” he said.
Capt. Novak said the operation led to boarding of ships in Fiji waters and illegal activity was detected.
He said the laws were enforced by the Fijian agencies on board the USCGC Munro.
“The opportunity to share best practices on how to conduct enforcement activities safely when you act in high risk environments,” he said.
“The Munro supported officials of the Ministry of Fisheries, Fiji Revenue and Customs Services, the Fijian Immigration Department and the Fiji Navy and conducted multiple boarding to enforce Fijian laws and regulations in Fijian waters.
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“These are important skills to reinforce maritime governance and a have free Indo-Pacific Ocean.”