Off East Africa, military forces join fight to end illegal fishing

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The view from a target ship as the Comorian Coast Guard commandos approach. Trainees learn standard procedures for approaching and boarding suspicious vessels, as well as for searches and seizures.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Spc. Ford Williams 3rd Class

The coastal countries of the western Indian Ocean continue to struggle to control illegal maritime activities, including illegal fishing, which accounts for up to 1 in 4 fish caught in the region. Authorities often lack the adequate means to collect information on suspected illegal activities or the capacity to take law enforcement action when they detect them.

To help address these issues, the US Department of Defense Africa Command and European, Canadian and Australian forces recently conducted a training exercise to help countries synchronize the detection and response to suspicious activity. The annual exercise, called Cutlass Express, brings together African partner countries to strategize, train and synchronize efforts around potential real-world scenarios.

In February, I was fortunate enough to be part of the exercise and saw the navies and coast guards of Mozambique, Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania, Comoros, Djibouti, Mauritius, Seychelles and Somalia work together to improve the safety, security and freedom of navigation. in African waters. Pew’s End of Illegal Fishing Project was invited to the exercise to bring their fisheries enforcement expertise and experience on the water.

Here are some pictures of the Cutlass Express exercise.


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