T H E C O M M A N D A N T
of the United States Coast Guard
At-sea enforcement of the Nation’s living marine resource laws is an enduring U.S. Coast Guard mission. Working with our partners in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, our enforcement efforts have upheld the biological and economic sustainability of our Nation’s marine fisheries. The benefits of this mission abound: fishermen’s livelihoods are protected, ports in which catch is distributed remain economically robust, and U.S. seafood consumers are able to support an industry dedicated to the long-term sustainability of U.S. fisheries.
Yet not all maritime nations have the capability to surveil their sovereign waters or the moral conscience to police their fleets; this lack of shared responsibility creates opportunities for exploitation in the form of Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. This exploitation erodes both regional and national security, undermines maritime rules-based order, jeopardizes food access and availability, and destroys legitimate economies.
IUU fishing has replaced piracy as the leading global maritime security threat. If IUU fishing continues unchecked, we can expect deterioration of fragile coastal States and increased tension among foreign-fishing Nations, threatening geo-political stability around the world.
The 2017 United States National Security Strategy outlines the impacts of these global threats, highlighting the importance of the rule of law, respect for sovereignty, and freedom of the seas to ensure the security of the United States and like-minded partners. This IUU Fishing Strategic Outlook announces the U.S. Coast Guard’s commitment to leading a global effort to combat illegal exploitation of the ocean’s fish stocks and protect our national interests. This Outlook establishes three lines of effort critical to achieving success: (1) Promote targeted, effective, intelligence-driven enforcement operations, (2) Counter predatory and irresponsible State behavior, and (3) Expand multilateral fisheries enforcement cooperation.
The U.S Coast Guard is prepared to take an enhanced leadership role in this effort, but we will not be successful alone. Playing to our strengths of working with intergovernmental and international partners, we seek to galvanize a coalition to confront coercive and antagonistic activity together and uphold our shared peaceful and humanitarian values. We know such international cooperation works: for 25 years, the six nations which contribute to the enforcement efforts of Operation North Pacific Guard have confronted illegal high seas driftnet fishing operations. Our collective efforts have been overwhelmingly successful in nearly eliminating illegal high seas driftnet fishing in the North Pacific Ocean.
Working collaboratively, we will expand a network of like-minded partners and bring light to the shadows where IUU fishing exists worldwide. Together, we will strengthen global maritime security, regional stability, and economic prosperity.
Admiral Karl L. Schultz