US and Papua New Guinea Conclude Historic Joint Maritime Patrol
Building on collaborative preparations and a recently ratified bilateral agreement to counter illicit transnational maritime activities, the United States and Papua New Guinea concluded a joint maritime patrol on September 4, 2023, aimed at strengthening regional security and resource management in the PNG exclusive economic zone for the first time.
The US Coast Guard 14th District and US Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam joined hands with Papua New Guinea agencies – the Defense Force, Customs Services, National Fisheries Authority, and the Department of Transport's Maritime Security Division – with support from the US Embassy in Port Moresby to make this historic operation a reality.
(Image credit: US Coast Guard)
"Crewing USCGC Myrtle Hazard alongside our Papua New Guinea shipriders has been a gratifying experience for all involved. The success of our joint operations goes beyond just fulfilling mission objectives; it's about building face-to-face relationships that deepen our partnership. Whether we're amid serious discussions about authority and jurisdiction or sharing lighter moments like debating the merits of the best slice of apple pie, these personal interactions are the cornerstone of a lasting alliance. I'm particularly proud that we could celebrate our joint achievements and individual milestones, such as Lt. Nathan Thavara's well-deserved promotion. It's these shared experiences that fortify our collective commitment to ensuring regional security and the sustainable management of maritime resources." — Lt. Jalle Merritt, commanding officer, USCGC Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139)
(Image credit: US Coast Guard)
Notable Achievements of the patrol include:
- Intensive planning sessions leading to the enhanced use of maritime domain awareness tools and the development of strategies.
- More than 50 distinguished visitors, media, and PNG counterparts toured the USCGC Myrtle Hazard.
- A subject matter exchange on law enforcement took place aboard USCGC Myrtle Hazard, involving multiple PNG partner agencies.
- 10 days of shared underway time to counter illegal maritime activity, including illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, incorporating shipriders from Customs and the National Fisheries Authority on the first leg and from Customs and the PNG Defense Force on the second leg.
- Six contact and observation reports of fishing vessels made within the PNG EEZ, including a notable vessel monitoring system violation leading to immediate action from the National Fisheries Authority in which the vessel company was fined for failing to operate their VMS in accordance with PNG requirements.
- Four bilateral boardings conducted on foreign fishing vessels targeting tuna in the PNG EEZ, which showed no violations but served to regulate activities in PNG’s EEZ, deter illegal activity and enhance knowledge concerning the compliance of foreign flagged fishing fleet operating in PNG’s EEZ.
- Cultural exchanges, including sharing customs, traditions, and histories.
The operations, led by Papua New Guinea and supported by the US Coast Guard upon invitation from the PNG Government, reinforce the importance of strong bilateral relationships. The activities illustrate the parity and shared objectives between the services, boding well for future endeavors.
The Western and Central Pacific Ocean contributes nearly 60 percent of the global tuna catch. Collaboration between Papua New Guinea and the United States underscores the mutual commitment to safeguarding this vital resource, benefiting the regional and international community.