US Coast Guard Here For Three Days

The US Coast Guard Cutter Mellon’s (WHEC – 717) pres­ence signifies the commit­ment of the United States of Amer­ica to a small island nation such as Fiji. This is the
23 Jan 2019 11:00
US Coast Guard Here For Three Days
US Coast Guard Cutter Mellon’s Commanding Officer Stephen Burdian during the press conference at the Kings Wharf in Suva on January 22, 2019. Photo: Sheenam Chandra

The US Coast Guard Cutter Mellon’s (WHEC – 717) pres­ence signifies the commit­ment of the United States of Amer­ica to a small island nation such as Fiji.

This is the statement made by the Commanding Officer, Stephen Burd­ian, during a press conference at Port of Suva’s Kings Wharf yester­day. The US Coast Guard Cutter Mel­lon arrived here yesterday.

“We are looking forward to the coming days to work with the Re­public of Fiji Navy to exercise our bilateral agreement and Shiprider Agreement in the area. To make sure that we conduct joint opera­tions to ensure that our national strategies and priorities are main­tained,” he said.

“We patrol the high seas to make sure that we counter the threats of the narcotics trafficking in the area as well as illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries that are im­portant to all our nations.

“Fiji, along with the USA and 41 other nations and agencies, have signed on to an agreement called the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission whose goal is to make sure that there is management and preservation of fisheries stocks for generations to come.

He highlighted that in 2015, an es­timated $5 billion in tuna industry was generated, mostly of which came from the Pacific region.

In 2017, he said about $2.5 million tonnes of stocks that was landed.

“The agreements shared between Fiji and US could ensure that fisher­ies stocks and natural resources are respected and preserved for the fu­ture generations,” Mr Burdian said.

“We have a Shiprider Agreement where we will bring a Fijian Naval officer on board and then we will do some joint operations out in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to ensure that the sovereignty of re­sources are respected by all nations in the area,” he said.

“We will be here for three days and we have 153 officers onboard.”

Lieutenant Junior Grade Austin Ross said the USCGC Mellon was one of the 12 high endurance cut­ters built.

“She was built in 1968 and turned 51 this month,” said Lieutenant Ross.

“The Mellon conducts Alaskan fishery patrols, enforcing inter­national and domestic fishing re­quirements. She patrols the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea, the Eastern Pacific down to South America.

“This will be a great opportunity to work with the Navy in Fiji and trade some information.”

Today, they crew will visit the Soci­ety for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) at Walu Bay, Suva. The activities will include engaging with the animals, giving dogs a bath, general cleaning of the site both in­door and outdoor.

Edited by Naisa Koroi


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