Operation Kaukledm, a coordinated maritime surveillance in Palau’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) involving four countries: Patrol Boat PSS Kedam, Japanese Fisheries Agency vessel, US Coast Guard Washington, and a surveillance aircraft chartered by the Australian Defence Cooperation program kicked off this week.

Kaukledm which means “working together is a joint operation by the aircraft and three ships to search the entire Palau EEZ (750,000 square kilometers) over a week.

Palau waters underscored the need for government to mobilize its resources and collaborate internationally to combat illegal fishing in its waters.

Maritime Surveillance Advisor to Palau, LCDR Clint Moore said that during the initial surveillance, maritime officers have boarded some fishing vessels but they were found to have the proper licenses and permits to fish in the EEZ.

The aircraft used in the operation was a local small plane from Pacific Mission Aviation, a not for profit organization with offices in Palau.

Last year, as a result of the operation, Palau’s patrol boat Remeliik detained two Filipino vessels believed to be involved in fishing activities within the Palau waters in violation of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Act (PNMS). The detained vessels included one purse seiner with 16 crewmembers and a fish carrier with 8 crew.

Although instead of filing charges against the fishermen caught on board the seized vessels, the marine law enforcement“ took action to unload the fish and to repatriate back to the Philippines the fish carrier and its crew, along with the crew of the purse seiner, and other fishermen who have been held in since 2016.  (Bernadette H. Carreon)