Government agencies, nongovernmental organi- zations, nonprofits, global associations, private industry, international think tanks, multilateral
conventions and regional consortiums on every continent — from world super powers to small island nations
— are engaged at some level in efforts to build capacity
and enhance security in the world’s oceans to protect
against the threat of illegal fishing while also safeguarding the marine environment.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is
an industry unto its own that represents an estimated 20
percent of all the fish caught worldwide with an annu-
al value of upward of $23 billion, according to a June
report published by the Stimson Center, “Secure Oceans:
Collaborative Policy and Technology Recommendations
for the World’s Largest Crime Scene.”
The conflicts over fishing grounds and the exploitation
of fishing vessels span the globe, particularly in Southeast
Asia, Indonesia and South Korea, but also West Africa,
Somalia waters, Mozambique,
India, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian
Sea and the Gulf of Oman. In the
Western Hemisphere, the industry is
vulnerable to compounded crimes,
for example, in Mexico, where fish-
ing vessels are routinely employed
for trafficking cocaine, according to
the Stimson report.
“The United Nations has implicated fishing vessels in the trafficking of drugs, arms and persons
— transnational crimes recognized
as threats to U.S. national security,”
the report said.
Among the scores of programs
and public-private partnerships
actively aimed at combating IUU,
whether on Africa’s vast coastlines
or in Alaska’s prized waters, is
the Defense Department’s Oceania
Established in 2012, OMSI is a secretary of Defense
program that leverages Department of Defense assets
transiting that vast region to increase maritime domain
awareness and support maritime law enforcement operations in Oceania. Utilizing a partnership of the U.S.
Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy and the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) to enforce fisheries laws and enhance regional security in U.S. exclusive
economic zones (EEZs) and on the high seas in Oceania,
OMSI involves missions across a 12.2-million-square-
mile area of responsibility (AOR), an expanse that corresponds with the Coast Guard’s Fourteenth District.
Setting a Standard
DoD’s Oceania Maritime Security Initiative offers
template for global effort to combat illegal fishing
By DAISY R. KHALIFA, Special Correspondent
Established in 2012, the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative
(OMSI) is an Office of the Secretary of Defense program that
leverages Department of Defense assets transiting that region
to increase maritime domain awareness and support maritime law
enforcement operations in Oceania.
n OMSI involves missions across a 12.2-million-square-mile area
of responsibility, an expanse that corresponds with the Coast
Guard’s Fourteenth District
n The United States maintains shiprider agreements with the
Cook Islands, Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia, the
Marshall Islands, Palau, Nauru, Tonga, Samoa and Tuvalu.
n According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture
Organization, an estimated 57 percent of the world’s fish stocks
are fully exploited, while 30 percent are depleted or recovering.