US Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL 750) crewmembers watch from the cutter’s forecastle as Bertholf navigates toward Hong Kong, April 15, 2019.
US Coast Guard/Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Masaschi
US Coast Guard to help countries struggling with EEZ protection
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( - June 12, 2019 - 12:37pm

MANILA, Philippines — Washington is open to assist island nations, particularly in the Pacific, in enforcing their own exclusive economic zones (EEZ).

Vice Admiral Linda Fagan, commander of the US Coast Guard Pacific Area, said Washington is focused on bolstering the ability of its partners and allies in protecting their sovereignty.

"So, we are very much interested in engaging with partner nations and using our authorities and capacity building in a way that is helpful and beneficial to particularly some of the small island nations who struggle with their own EEZ enforcement," Fagan said in a telephone press briefing Tuesday.

Assistance could be in sending a team to train a country's coast guard in fisheries enforcement boarding to guard against fishing incursions, Fagan said.

Fagan also noted that similar engagement and partnership capacity-building will be conducted once USCGC Stratton gets deployed to the South China Sea in a few days.

Stressing that the deployment of Stratton is consistent with a rules-based international system, Fagan said the US Coast Guard is committed to a safe, secure and predictable conduct of vessels navigating on the high seas.

In the same briefing, Fagan confirmed that Washington is monitoring Beijing's deployment of militia boats in the disputed South China Sea.

"We obviously are aware and have been following the militia and some of the activity," Fagan said.

Earlier this year, the Philippine military confirmed that hundreds of Chinese vessels, believed to be part of its maritime militia, have been stationed near Pag-asa Island as early as January.

The Department of Foreign Affairs released a statement on the issue, stating that the presence of Chinese vessels around Pag-asa Island and nearby features is illegal.

Citing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the DFA said Beijing's actions are a "clear violation of Philippine sovereingty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction."

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