There is an emerging crisis in the Pacific, fueled by the war on fish. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing “erodes both regional and national security, undermines maritime rules-based order, jeopardizes food access and availability, and destroys legitimate economies.”1 The most deleterious effects are on vulnerable coastal states without sufficient resources to police their territorial waters. To counter this threat, the United States should expand Coast Guard presence and foster a cooperative maritime strategy with nation-states less able to defend themselves or their resources. It must leverage the unique capabilities of the Coast Guard and provide a deliverable force package to combatant commanders around the world. Agile Maritime Enforcement Groups (MEGs) are needed to deploy across the globe.
1. U.S. Coast Guard, “Operation North Pacific Guard 2020,” press release.
2. Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser, “Seafood production,” Our World In Data, 2019.
3. Ling Cao et al. (2017). “Opportunity for Marine Fisheries Reform in China,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114 (January 2017): 435–42.
4. Fisheries Division, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. “Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profiles, the People’s Republic of China,” December 2017.
5. Cao et al., “Opportunity for Marine Fisheries Reform in China.”
6. Miren Gutierrez et al., China’s Distant-Water Fishing Fleet (Overseas Development Institute, June 2020).
7. Reuters, “Ecuador Jails Chinese Fishermen Found with 6,000 Sharks,” 28 August 2017; BBC, “Argentina Sinks Chinese Fishing boat Lu Yan Yuan Yu 010, 16 March 2016; Reuters, “ “Indonesian Navy Opens Fire on Chinese Fishing Vessel,” The Maritime Executive, 19 June 2016; and “Indonesia Sinks 51 Confiscated Fishing Vessels, 5 May 2019.
8. Alister Doyle, “Ocean Fish Numbers Cut in Half since 1970,” Scientific American, 16 September 2015.
9. U.S. Coast Guard, “Operation North Pacific Guard 2020,” press release.
10. ENS Malia R. K. Hindle, USCG, “The Long Blue Line: Operation “Relevant Ursa”—Bear training in West Africa,” MyCG, 3 November 2020.