The U.S. Coast Guard and Navy have finished an 18-day mission in the Central and South Pacific as part of the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative to fight transnational crimes, enforce fisheries laws and enhance regional security, the Coast Guard announced this week.

“Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing undermines efforts to conserve and manage global fish stocks,” said Coast Guard Cmdr. Richard Howes, chief of enforcement, Coast Guard 14th District response division, in a press release.

“The OMSI mission along with our partnerships with Australia, New Zealand, France, and Pacific Island Nations helps deter illegal fishing and promote economic and environmental stability in the region,” he said.

Members from U.S. Coast Guard observe the fishing process of a foreign flagged fishing vessel during an Oceania Maritime Security Initiative boarding mission, Feb. 15.

Courtesy: Danny Kelley/U.S. Navy

There were 16 fisheries enforcement boardings, including five on the high seas. Federal law enforcement officers inspected documentation and fish holds for illegal activity and compliance with conservation and management measures, the release states.

Officials did not respond to a request for information about how many or what type of enforcement actions were taken.

The Coast Guard patrols the waters around the numerous islands belonging to the United States throughout the region, each of which has territorial waters stretching out to 12 nautical miles from shore.

Beyond that, stretching out to 200 nautical miles is an exclusive economic zone, an area defined by international law that allows each nation exclusive rights to the exploration and use of the marine resources within, the release says. Oceania contains 43 percent, or approximately 1.3 million square miles, of United States’ EEZs.

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