The San Diego-based amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore was steaming toward the South Pacific Tuesday to provide enforcement of fisheries around 10 island nations, according to the Navy.
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A detachment of U.S. Coast Guard maritime law enforcement personnel are aboard the Rushmore, which departed San Diego Monday in support of the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative.
The Navy said OMSI aims to reduce transnational illegal activity on the high seas in the Pacific island nations of Oceania’s exclusive economic zones, and enhance regional security and interoperability with partner nations.
“Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing undermines efforts to conserve and manage global fish stocks,” said Coast Guard Lt. Kenji Awamura.
The goal of combined efforts by the Navy and Coast Guard through the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative mission is to deter these devastating practices,” Awamura said. “In partnership with Australia, New Zealand, France, and the Pacific island nations, OMSI further promotes economic and environmental stability throughout Oceania.”
Through bilateral agreements, the Coast Guard assists the island nations in patrolling the waters around their economic zones, which stretch 200 nautical miles from shore. The zones allow each nation exclusive rights to the exploration and use of maritime resources.
“Our crew is very excited to take part in the OMSI mission,” said Cmdr. John Ryan, commanding officer of Rushmore. “Working in tandem with the U.S. Coast Guard is a new experience for us, which will continue to demonstrate how the extensive range of U.S. Navy assets provides critical support to the embarked boarding teams in their mission of enforcing fishery laws.”
Maritime law enforcement officers will use the 609-foot-long Rushmore as a platform to intercept and board commercial fishing vessels operating in the economic zones to investigate potential fishing violations.
The 26-year-old vessel, named for the famous monument in South Dakota, completed its most recent deployment in December 2015.
–City News Service
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