U.S. Coast Guard watchstanders coordinated with a Royal Bahamas Defence Force team to apprehend two Dominican Republic flagged vessels illegally fishing the Grand Bahamas Bank Sept. 24, a week after the Coast Guard issued its new strategy to internationally combat illegal fishing.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard’s Bahamas and Turks and Caicos operation center coordinated the effort as a Bahamas boarding team interdicted the vessels El Ship and Angel Gabriel, with 83 crew in all on board fishing off Diamond Point.

Bahamas authorities seized more than 12,000 pounds of fish and lobster, and the vessels were escorted to New Providence, Bahamas, for further enforcement action, Coast Guard officials said.

They noted the incident as an example of the Coast Guard working with international partners as outlined in a document released Sept. 17, defining what the service calls “a new strategy to enhance global safety, security, and stewardship of the maritime domain by combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.”

“IUU fishing is a collection of dishonest fishing practices, both on the high seas and in areas within national jurisdiction, that threatens global geo-political security and prosperity and weakens rules-based order; especially as the worldwide demand for fish as a protein source continues to grow,” according to the Coast Guard. “The strategy announces the Coast Guard’s commitment to leading an international effort to combat illegal exploitation of the ocean’s fish stocks and protect our national interests.”

The Miami-based Seventh Coast Guard District includes 1.8 million square miles “of responsibility shared with 32 foreign countries and overseas territories,” said district commander Rear Adm. Eric C. Jones. “The Coast Guard’s recently released Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing Strategic Outlook is a commitment to our international partners throughout this region, and I look forward to continuing to build and maintain strong relationships with our like-minded foreign allies as we work together to combat the threat IUU fishing poses to our region.”

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Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for more than 30 years and a 25-year field editor for National Fisherman before joining our Commercial Marine editorial staff in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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