U.S., Samoa Renew Pacific Maritime Law Enforcement Agreement

Photo: U.S. Coast Guard.

The United States and the Independent State of Samoa on April 5 signed an addendum to the existing 2012 Bilateral Agreement for the continuation and expansion of operational cooperation to suppress illicit transnational maritime activity.

“In partnership with Samoa, the United States stands committed to safeguarding and ensuring security of Samoa’s economic exclusive zone, by preserving its marine resources, environment, promoting sustainable development for future generations” U.S. Embassy Apia, Samoa Charge d’Affaires, Noriko Horiuchi, said.

The addendum to the existing Bilateral Agreement signed by the Coast Guard and Samoa signed allows for enhanced maritime law enforcement operations, maritime domain awareness and assists with implementation of integrated operations between the U.S. and Samoa by extending U.S. Coast Guard operability to deter predatory and illegal fishing activities in Samoa’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

“The enhanced maritime law enforcement agreement represents another tool for Samoa to use to help combat transnational illicit maritime activity and illegal fishing activities within its EEZ,” the Coast Guard said in a statement. “This enhanced agreement enables Samoa to request the U.S. Coast Guard to inspect vessels and enforce their coastal state regulations without a Samoan officer present.”

“This agreement does not replace the joint work conducted with Samoan shipriders,” the statement continued. “Rather, it augments the capability and plays a crucial role in protecting marine ecosystems and the sustainable livelihoods they support.”

“The strengthened partnerships in the Pacific have been invaluable in increasing the number of boardings within partners’ EEZs, which in turn has led to the deterrence, observation and reporting of vessel crew activities and fishing operations for partner nation’s enforcement agencies,” the Guard stated.

The agreement update follows a similar contract signed with the Federated States of Micronesia in October 2022, a bilateral defense agreement signed with Papua New Guinea in May 2023, and the enhanced maritime bilateral agreement with the Republic of Palau in August 2023.

“Through bilateral law enforcement agreements, community engagements and senior leader visits … and subject matter exchanges between maritime agencies, we continue to demonstrate how these partnerships significantly enhance our collective capacity to safeguard shared resources and build a prosperous Oceania that is inclusive and secure for all law-abiding nations,” the Guard said.