Coast Guard Establishes IUU Fishing, Environmental Response Centers in Hawaii

The U.S. Coast Guard Marine Environmental Response Regional Activities Center (MER RAC) and the Illegal Unreported Unregulated Fisheries Center of Expertise (IUUF COE) were established during an Oct. 11 ceremony on Ford Island, Hawaii.

Coast Guard Pacific Area Commander Vice Adm. Andrew Tiongson and Rear Adm. Jo-Ann Burdian, the Guard’s Assistant Commandant for Response Policy, presided over the ceremony.

The IUUF COE is to  serve as the international engagements arm for combatting illegal fishing activities in the Indo-Pacific, and further promote regional coordination to combat IUUF and better equip partner nations.

“The intent of the IUUF COE is to increase maritime domain awareness, exchange valuable information, increase interoperability, and share best practices related to IUUF activities,” the Guard said in a statement.

The MER RAC was created to assist Indo-Pacific countries with preparing for and responding to marine pollution incidents. It’s expected to provide subject matter experts to engage with regional response personnel and enhance preparations for national incidents within region for America’s Pacific partners.

The MER RAC will also help Indo-Pacific countries develop their own national response systems, refine components of existing systems, increasing regional all-hazard preparedness and strengthening the ability of nations to respond to oil and hazardous substance incidents within their areas of responsibility.

Both units will focus on in-person engagements to conduct subject matter exchanges, capacity assessments, and unclassified information sharing with partner nations to complement collective efforts from our training teams and establish organic methods in the global approach to combatting IUUF and assist in preparing for natural and man-made disasters.

“The intent,” the Coast Guard said, “is to encourage sustained, long-term engagement with partner nations within the Indo-Pacific.”

“Today, there is greater demand for your Coast Guard than ever before,” Tiongson during the Oct. 11 ceremony. “These new detachments, strategically positioned here in Hawaii will fulfill exactly what the Indo-Pacific Strategy directs.”