The Coast Guard Cutter Juniper crew visited the Port of Suva, Fiji, this month as part of a multi-month deployment in support of Operation Blue Pacific.
Prior to the Juniperʼs port call, four Fijian shipriders representing Fijiʼs Police Force, Ministry of Fisheries, Revenue and Customs, and the Republic of Fiji Navy came aboard the Juniper, spending multiple days underway with the crew.
With the help of the Juniperʼs law enforcement boarding teams, including members from the Tactical Law Enforcement Team – Pacific, the Fijian shipriders were able to utilize the cutter to patrol Fijian waters and conduct a fisheries boarding in the effort to deter illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU).
“We are pleased to work with our partners in Fiji to deter IUU fishing in their exclusive economic zones,” said Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Bonner, the Juniper’s commanding officer. “These shiprider agreements allow further cooperation between nations to protect the fishing industry and Fijian sovereignty.”
While in Suva, the Juniper crew hosted U.S. Ambassador Marie Damour for a shiprider tour and to discuss Coast Guard operations throughout the Pacific. Members from Fijiʼs Ministry of Fisheries, Revenue and Customs, and Maritime Safety Authority were given tours of the Juniper. Service members from the Republic of Fiji Navy were also given a tour and later conducted damage control training with the Juniperʼs engineering department. Multiple Juniper crewmembers visited the William Cross College with representatives from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Embassy, and Republic of Fiji Navy to speak with senior- grade students and hold group discussions about the importance of overcoming gender bias. An interagency rugby match with the Republic of Fiji Navy took place that very same day at the historic Albertʼs Park in Suva.
The Juniper (WLB 201) crew departed from Honolulu, Hawaii, mid-January to counter illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU) and strengthen relationships to enhance maritime sovereignty and security throughout the region.
The fisheries industry is a significant source of food and income throughout the Pacific. Protecting this renewable resource is a priority for the United States and Pacific Island Countries as IUU fishing in the Pacific has global impacts. Recently, IUU fishing has replaced piracy as the leading global maritime security threat and has the potential to have global effect if unchecked.
The Juniper is a 225-foot seagoing buoy tender home-ported in Honolulu and is responsible for maintaining aids to navigation, performing maritime law enforcement, port and coast security, search and rescue and environmental protection.
Operation Blue Pacific is an overarching multi-mission Coast Guard endeavor, promoting security, safety, sovereignty, and economic prosperity in Oceania while strengthening relationships between partner nations in the Pacific.