Palau and Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) are conducting their first joint maritime surveillance operation this week to detect illegal activities at seas such as illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and other maritime crimes.

The operation will cover a combined area of 170,000 square kilometers which include both the  exclusive economic zone (EEZ)  of Palau and FSM

Operation Piailug kicked off yesterday in Palau with at least 16 marine law enforcers from FSM aboard the vessel’s FSS Micronesia traveling here for a two -day training before setting sail for a combined operation.

Lt. Commander Clint Moore, the Australian Maritime Surveillance Adviser to Palau said the three vessels- PSS Kedam, PSS Remiliik and FSM’s FSS Micronesia will coordinate efforts to clamp down on illegal fishing and other maritime crimes on their waters.

“This is just an opportunity for the two countries to work together and try and learn from each other and also get used to operating with neighboring countries and learn about some commonalities between what we are trying to patrol together which is the neighboring EEZ,” Moore said.

More than 50 marine law enforcement officers from Palau and FSM will participate in the operation. Although FSM and Palau continue to be part of a regional surveillance undertaking with other Pacific nations, Moore said that this is the first time both countries will be able to work together to patrol both the countries’ EEZ.

The joint operation will also be aided by aerial surveillance by Australia’s Pacific Maritime Security Program.

Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) members cooperate about monitoring, control, and surveillance of fishing – which includes the exchange of information plus procedures for cooperation in monitoring, prosecuting and penalizing illegal fishing vessels.

Operation Piailug was named after the famous Micronesian navigator, Pius ‘Mau’ Piailug.  (Bernadette H. Carreon)