The fishing vessel Run Da was detained by the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley on June 23rd after the vessel was suspected of illegal fishing activity in international waters 860 miles east of Hokkaido, Japan. A total of 80 tons of chum salmon and one ton of squid were found onboard.
The Alex Haley crew and People’s Republic of China Coast Guard officials conducted a joint international boarding of the Run Da after a U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak C-130 aircraft spotted the fishing vessel, which was suspected of violating the worldwide driftnet moratorium issued by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution.
After initial arrival on the scene, the U.S. Cost Guard and People’s Republic of China Coast Guard officials participated in a pre-boarding question and answer interview via VHF-FM radio. The results of this conversation confirmed fishing activity and the nationality of the vessel. The captain of the F/V Run Da admitted to fishing with driftnets up to 5.6 miles in length.
“Legally, they can go up to about two-and-a-half kilometers. This vessel had almost five times the legal limit of nets,” said Captain Darran McLenon, chief of response for the 17th Coast Guard District.
Team members from the U.S. Alex Haley vessel and the People’s Republic of China Coast Guard obtained clearance for boarding, then continued to investigate. Illegal fishing activity was documented by crew members from both countries.
Custody of the Run Da was transferred to the People’s Republic of China Coast Guard following the investigation, and the PRC Coast Guard was given the task of escorting the F/V Run Da back to China for prosecution.
“The U.S. Coast Guard is committed to preserving the world’s fragile marine ecosystems, not only to ensure economic prosperity today but to ensure thriving oceans for future generations,” said Capt. Darran McLenon, chief of response for the 17th Coast Guard District. “This case was the first apprehension of a large-scale, high seas driftnet vessel since 2014 and highlights the successful fisheries enforcement cooperation and patrols of the U.S., Canada, China, Japan, Russia and the Republic of Korea, including the force multiplying value of shiprider agreements, which enables joint high seas boarding and inspections to detect and deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.”
The Alex Haley is responsible for multi-national fisheries enforcement patrol, supported by Canada, China, Japan, Russia, and the Republic of Korea. The 105-member crew conducts search and rescue operations, homeland security missions, and enforcement of international and domestic fisheries laws in Alaskan waters and the Bering Sea.