Coast Guard Considers Placing Cutters in American Samoa in Response to Illegal Fishing

U.S. Coast Guard officials say they will evaluate the feasibility of basing fast response cutters in American Samoa in the western Pacific, due to alleged predatory activities of Chinese fishing vessels and also to ensure freedom of navigation.

“The U.S. is a Pacific power,” said National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien. “ People’s Republic of China’s illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and harassment of vessels operating in the exclusive economic zones of other countries in the Indo-Pacific, threatens our sovereignty, as well as the sovereignty of our Pacific neighbors and endangers regional stability,” he said. “Efforts of the United States government, including the United States Coast Guard are critical to countering these destabilizing and malign actions.”

O’Brien noted that the Coast Guard is continuing to modernize and enhance the capabilities of its fleet of major cutters, which play a prominent role in protecting vital national interests, and where appropriate, U.S. partners in the region.

“To that end, the Coast Guard is strategically homeporting significantly enhanced fast response cutters, built in a proven Louisiana-based shipyard, in the western Pacific,” he said. “The new generation of fast response cutters will conduct maritime security missions, such as fisheries patrols, enhance maritime domain awareness and enforcement efforts in collaboration with regional partners who have limited offshore surveillance and enforcement capacity, and ensure freedom of navigation.”

Obrien said the Coast Guard plans to evaluate the feasibility of basing those fast response cutters in American Samoa, If the survey is favorable, the U.S. could further expand its presence in the South Pacific, he said.