The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is expanding its partnerships with countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean to fight illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
IUU fishing threatens seafood stocks, undermines science-based fisheries management, puts legitimate producers at a disadvantage, and can encroach on coastal states’ sovereign rights.
The USCG has partnered with 10 countries in the region to increase maritime security. Over the next 10 months, the USCG plans to deploy 15 training teams to Central and South America.
Once there, these teams will help those countries strengthen their law enforcement, engineering, boat operations, search and rescue, and maritime planning operations.
Since 2015, the USCG has equipped partner nations with nearly 50 boats to help countries combat maritime threats, such as IUU fishing and piracy.
In December 2020, the USCG Cutter Stone left Pascagoula, Mississippi, on its inaugural patrol as part of the USCG’s multi-month Operation Southern Cross.
“Stone’s crew is engaging with partner nations in South America in a like-minded pursuit to curb illegal fishing tactics,” said USCG Captain Adam Morrison, commanding officer for Stone.
Operation Southern Cross promises to expand U.S. relationships with the governments of Brazil, Guyana, and Uruguay. Beyond the immediacy of Operation Southern Cross, the U.S. government intends these collaborations to promote long-term regional stability, security, and economic prosperity.
In January, the USCG and the Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard completed cooperation exercises to combat IUU fishing. The USCG Cutter Stone then traveled along the coast of Brazil, where the crew monitored possible IUU fishing activities and strengthened the U.S.-Brazil partnership through cooperation exercises with the Brazilian Navy.
Later in the month, the USCG Cutter Stone arrived at the port of Montevideo, Uruguay. Cap. Morrison joined counterparts from the government of Uruguay to announce new measures to certify large fishing ships have not been engaged in IUU fishing by requiring vessel monitoring system location data.
“IUU fishing threatens fish stock’s health and adversely impacts those who follow global norms and national laws,” said USCG Vice Admiral Steven Poulin, Atlantic Area commander. “This is a global issue, and IUU is a problem too big for any one nation.”