U.S. Embassy Suva welcomed the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) to the Port of Suva with a press conference featuring the Stratton’s commanding officer Captain Stephen Adler, Embassy Charge d’affaires (CDA) Tony Greubel, and Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Defense Manasa Lesuma. The Stratton’s visit highlights the U.S. Coast Guard’s partnership with Fiji and their combined effort to protect fisheries resources.
“Stratton will embark three shipriders from Customs, Fisheries, and Navy to ride along and conduct patrols in support of the sovereignty of Fiji and her bountiful maritime resources. These coordinated efforts will aim to deter and stop Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing, drug smuggling and transnational crime,” CDA Greubel said in his remarks.
“Our relationships with our partner nations are more important than ever in combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing,” said Capt. Adler. “We are pleased to work with our Fijian partners to maintain maritime sovereignty and security throughout the region.”
While in port, the Fijian Minister of Defense, the Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, and Deputy Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces will greet the cutter and meet with Adler to discuss their partnership and combined efforts against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. The Stratton will also welcome aboard three Fijian shipriders, who with the assistance of Stratton’s law enforcement boarding teams, will ensure compliance with applicable Fijian fishing laws within Fiji’s EEZ.
Bilateral shiprider agreements are a force multiplier for both Fiji and the Coast Guard because they allow Fijian law enforcement personnel to observe, protect, board, and search vessels suspected of violating laws or regulations within Fijian waters with the support of Coast Guard personnel and vessels. The mission enables both states to learn, train, and serve together against a variety of threats, including IUU fishing.
The crew of the Stratton spent the last 50 days underway in the Pacific combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) for an Operation Blue Pacific deployment. The Coast Guard’s mission to combat IUU fishing is essential in protecting maritime governance and a rules-based international order to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific. The fisheries industry is a significant source of food and income throughout the Pacific, and protecting this renewable resource is a priority for Fiji and the United States.