By: L.N. Reklai
May 9, 2017 (Koror, Palau) Locals lined up Sunday and Monday to get free tuna fish from a fishing boat captured within Palau’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), a result of an ongoing joint law enforcement exercise within Palau National Marine Sanctuary.
A quadrilateral operation (Operation Kaukledm 2) consisting of PSS President H I Remeliik (Pacific Class Patrol Boat),Japanese Fisheries Agency Ship Mihama, USCG Cutter Assateague and surveillance aircraft chartered by the Australian Defence Cooperation Program resulted in capture of two illegal Filipino fishing boats within Palau’s EEZ.
One of the fishing boats captured had 42 tons of tuna on board and Ministry of Justice through Vice President Raynold Oilouch made the tuna catch available to all locals free of charge, an extra bonus from the marine law enforcement exercise.
Operation Kaukledm 2 consisting of three ships and an aircraft will be searching the entire 750,000 square kilometers of Palau’s EEZ from May 3 to May 11, 2017.
The aircraft chartered by the Australian Defence Cooperation Program will be returning to Yap at the end of the operation. JFA Ship Mihama which is part of the bilateral cooperation between Palau and Japan will remain after Operation Kaukledm for several weeks for further surveillance patrols in Palau’s EEZ with observer from Palau’s Department of Marine Law Enforcement(DMLE).
US Coast Guard Cutter Assateague which is operating under the Ship-Rider program whereby US vessel can enforce Palauan law in Palau waters with an officer of DMLE on board, will be returning to Guam later this week.
This exercise demonstrates the successful partnership and cooperation between Palau, United States, Australia and Japan in conducting surveillance and enforcement operations in the Palau National Marine Sanctuary.
PSS Remeliik patrol boat donated in 1996 to Palau by Australia will be replaced by a brand new Guardian Class Patrol Boat as part of Australia’s Pacific Maritime Security Program in 2019.
Additionally, Nippon Foundation and Sasakawa Peace Foundation will be adding another 50 meter patrol boat at end of this year to the smaller one Euatel recently handed over to Palau government to enhance Palau’s marine law enforcement capacity.
The two larger patrol boats with the three smaller ones will be assisted through established partnerships with Australia, Japan, and US in enforcing Palau National Marine Sanctuary act. [/restrict]