The United States Department of State says it is “proud” to support the US Coast Guard (USCG) Operation Southern Cross as part of the US’ efforts to build regional maritime security partnerships and counter illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the South Atlantic, including the Caribbean.
The State Department, in a recent statement said that the multi-month inaugural deployment of the new USCG Legend-class National Security Cutter, the Stone (WMSL 758), will strengthen cooperation and enhance security throughout the region.
In Guyana, on January 9, the State Department said the USCG Cutter Stone and the Guyanese Defense Force Coast Guard “engaged in a series of cooperative exercises that support combatting IUU fishing, the first such operations conducted in conjunction with a new ship-rider agreement ratified in 2020.”
The USCG Cutter Stone will also perform the full range of USCG statutory missions “as circumstances warrant.”
So far, the Stone crew has already interdicted one go-fast vessel in the Caribbean, seizing over 900 kilograms of cocaine on January 7, to the south of the Dominican Republic.
“The United States is a global leader in efforts to tackle IUU fishing, including through work in multilateral institutions to strengthen the rules governing international fisheries and bilateral engagement with the world’s coastal, port and market states,” the State Department said.
It said the value of global capture fish production in 2018 was over US$151 billion, estimating that IUU fishing results in tens of billions of US dollars of lost revenue every year.
“IUU fishing jeopardises global food security, destabilises the economic security of coastal states, and violates state sovereignty by undermining international agreements and fisheries conservation measures,” the State Department said.
“In the South Atlantic, we encourage our regional partners to be vigilant as we work together to protect the waters we share, and we urge our partners to both ratify and implement international measures, such as the FAO Agreement on Port State Measures,” it added.
The US State Department said Operation Southern Cross is the US Coast Guard’s first patrol to the South Atlantic in recent memory.