International Effort Halts Vessel Fishing Illegally on High Seas

The US Coast Guard has transferred custody of the 191-foot
fishing vessel Yin Yuan, seized for high seas drift net fishing in the North
Pacific Ocean, to the China coast guard vessel 2102 in the East China
The announcement on June 3 came from the Coast Guard 17th
District in Juneau, Alaska, in support of Operation North Pacific Guard. That’s
the US Coast Guard’s component of a multi-lateral fisheries law enforcement
operation designed to detect and deter illegal, unreported and unregulated
fishing activity, including large-scale drift-net fishing on the high seas.
Crew from the Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau who boarded
the Yin
, which was seized 625 miles east of Tokyo, Japan, in the North
Pacific, found approximately a half ton of salmon on board.
The Honolulu-based Morgenthau, a 378-foot high
endurance cutter used in search and rescue, as well as law enforcement
The Coast Guard said a Canadian CP-140 maritime patrol
aircraft with a Canada Department of Fisheries and Oceans Enforcement official
on board, operating under the control of the US Coast Guard 17th District,
first sighted the Yin Yuan on the high seas of the North Pacific Ocean.
The Canadian forces observed that the Yin Yuan was engaged
in large-scale high seas drift net fishing and the sighting information was
passed to the crew of the Morgenthau, which was patrolling in
support of Operation North Pacific Guard.
“This seizure is a direct result of the teamwork between the
Coast Guard and our Chinese, Japanese and Canadian law enforcement partners,”
said Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, commander, Coast Guard 17th District.
The Morgenthau intercepted and boarded
the vessel with two law enforcement officials from the China Coast Guard’s
Fisheries Law Enforcement Command and interviewed the master, after the
vessel’s master made a claim of Chinese registry.
The master, who was not identified, admitted to having 3.3
kilometers of nets onboard, and stated that he had thrown the drift nets and
other equipment overboard prior to being intercepted by the Morgenthau
Along with discovery of the IUU salmon, the Morgenthau
crew identified three suspected fisheries violations. These included use of
prohibited fishing gear of more than 3.3 kilometers of high seas drift net,
failure to maintain sufficient records of catch and catch-related data, and
fishing without a license, permit or authorization issued by a sanctioned
Additionally, violations of the International Convention for
the Prevention of Pollution from Ships were documented.
The United States, Canada and China actively participate in
international efforts to deter the practice of large-scale high seas drift net
fishing, as encouraged by a 1992 United Nations moratorium.
Since 1994, the Coast Guard and NOAA Fisheries Service have
annually hosted law enforcement officers from the China Fishery Law Enforcement
Command onboard Coast Guard cutters patrolling in the North Pacific Ocean.

The Coast Guard also participates in closely coordinated
fisheries enforcement patrols with the member nations of the North Pacific
Anadromous Fisheries Commission and North Pacific Coast Guard Forum.