The crew of Coast Guard Juniper (WLB 201) returned to Honolulu after conducting a 45-day patrol in Oceania in support of Operation ‘Aiga on Friday.
During the 10,000 nautical mile patrol, the cutter crew conducted operations to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and strengthened relationships with foreign allies while promoting maritime sovereignty collective and resource security of Indo-Pacific partner countries.
Operation Aiga, the Samoan word for family, is designed to integrate Coast Guard capabilities and operations with our Pacific Island country partners to effectively and efficiently protect shared national interests, combat fishing. IUU and strengthen maritime governance on the high seas.
âDuring our deployment to Oceania, Juniper conducted fisheries law enforcement activities with the goal of countering and deterring illegal fishing activity in the central Pacific,â said Cmdr. Chris Jasnoch, the commander of the Juniper. âWe were able to establish a presence on the high seas and in the United States’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in American Samoa while also patrolling the EEZs of our partner country.
The Juniper crew worked for the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), which works to protect the region’s fish stocks on the high seas. WCPFC has 26 member countries and 7 participating territories, of which 18 have executive power. The United States is both a member of the WCPFC and a country of enforcement.
âWe are on a unique and rewarding mission in the Pacific,â said Lt. JG Ryan Burk, operations officer aboard the Juniper. âWe are privileged to build and strengthen relationships with our Pacific Island partners, while protecting and preserving the world’s resources. “
During the patrol, the Juniper embarked a Mandarin linguist from the United States Marine Corps to interview 11 foreign fishing vessels and board 4 fishing vessels, generating reports of vital information for IUU fishing in the region.
The crew also conducted joint operations with a French Navy Falcon-200 aircraft to identify and intercept ships on the high seas. They also conducted a refueling evolution with the crew of Coast Guard Oliver Berry, another participating in Operation ‘Aiga.
âWe have strengthened our joint capacities with the French Navy in the fight against IUU fishing activities on the high seas in support of the WCPFC,â said Jasnoch.
To promote American Samoa’s shipping system, the Juniper crew maintained life-saving aids to navigation in the port of Pago Pago and neighboring islands, demonstrating the cutter’s multi-mission capabilities.
In addition to normal buoy maintenance, Juniper completed the first Waterway Analysis and Management System report for Pago Pago since 2003. This report incorporates the opinions of regular users of Pago Pago Harbor to examine suitability existing aids and reassess where new aids would be useful, ensuring the sustainability and safety of the waterway.
The Juniper team also put together a donation box for the children of Pago Pago, which included: sports equipment, books and toys for the Boys and Girls Club of American Samoa.
âDespite the COVID restrictions preventing an in-person event, it was good to know we were making a difference,â Ensign Elaine Weaver, Juniper’s community relations manager, said.
The Juniper is a 225-foot marine buoy based in Honolulu and is responsible for maintaining aids to navigation, maritime law enforcement, port and coastal security, search and rescue and the protection of the environment.