Bermuda observer on board US Coast Guard cutter carrying out fisheries operations
A US Coast Guard crew and a Bermuda Government representative were able to take a closer look at activity in international waters in a joint fisheries operation, the US Consul-General said yesterday.
USCGS Angela McShan patrolled waters seaward of the Bermuda Exclusive Economic Zone, which extends 230 miles from the island.
Karen Grissette, the US Consul-General, explained that she had talks with Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs, as well as the Royal Bermuda Regiment and Government House about working with the US Coast Guard to protect fishing stock in and around the island.
She said: “That’s a common goal between the United States and Bermuda, to enforce international law, because what the Angela McShan is doing is in international waters, outside of Bermuda’s EEZ.”
Ms Grissette added that a member of the Government’s fisheries team joined the cutter’s crew as an observer in the exercise, which was designed to enforce international laws related to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
She explained: “This size platform, which is bigger than exists in Bermuda, allows a Bermuda observer and it allows the US to go outside of Bermuda’s EEZ, in between Bermuda and US EEZ – so an area of common concern to both of us – to patrol and to make sure that there’s no illegal, unlicensed, unregulated fishing that would impact fish stocks in Bermuda and also in the United States.”
Ms Grissette added that the operation presented an opportunity for both jurisdictions to learn more about what, if any, problems were in the Atlantic’s international waters.
She highlighted that a “key element” of the partnership between the US and Bermuda was that the cutter’s size meant it could go into rough waters and stay offshore for longer than smaller vessels.
Ms Grissette said: “We really appreciate Bermuda’s hospitality.
“By being able to have the Angela McShan here for port services, this cutter is able to extend the time that it can do patrols around.”
She said that it is hoped the work will develop into a “multiyear effort” to monitor the common interest area and to help the island “do something that Bermuda alone can’t do”.
Lieutenant Ryan Foust, the cutter’s Commanding Officer, said: “The fisheries are important to protect and that’s what we’re here for, and the international relationship we have with Bermuda is a huge thing. It’s an honour for me to be here and be part of this.”
But he added: “Really it’s just a deterrent.
“There are some international laws that we can work with, but overall we’re just showing everybody that we’re watching and we’re partnering with the Bermudian Government to be able to do that on a multinational level and show that we’re there.”
He said: “The biggest thing with showing these fishermen out there is that, it’s unpredictable.
“We’re flying the flag, we’re showing them, we’re here, we’re looking for this.”
Lt Foust added that “people not knowing” was an asset.
He explained that the 47m Sentinel-class cutter was named after the first African American woman to be a master chief in the US Coast Guard.
Lt Foust added: “We are honoured to have her name on this ship.”
Lieutenant-Colonel Ben Beasley, the Commanding Officer of the RBR, said yesterday: “We have so many close ties to the United States, especially obviously the eastern seaboard, that working in tandem is going to create efficiencies and skills of economy when we’re both looking to achieve the same thing in the mid-Atlantic.”