A safe, secure North Pacific

Coast Guard Cutter Hawksbill and a response boat from Maritime Safety and Security Team San Diego perform operational exercises during the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Coast Guard Cutter Hawksbill and a response boat from Maritime Safety and Security Team San Diego perform operational exercises during the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

North Pacific nations are gathering this week to discuss the North Pacific Ocean, the body of water they all border that encompasses 21 percent of the world’s ocean area. The safety and economic security of these nations depends considerably upon the secure use of the ocean; for the large expanse of the North Pacific, this means strong relationships between nations with overlapping sovereignty, economic, security, emergency response and law enforcement concerns in the region. These relationships are bolstered each year through the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum.

First proposed in 2000, the forum serves as a multi-lateral regional partnering initiative among countries bordering the North Pacific in an effort to enhance maritime safety and security. The forum provides an opportunity for information exchanges at high-level summit meetings, cultivating relationships – both operational and diplomatic – for the nations.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft and senior Coast Guard officials meet with a delegation from the People's Republic of China at the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Patrick Kelley.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft and senior Coast Guard officials meet with a delegation from the People’s Republic of China at the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Patrick Kelley.

“Through the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum, countries who share the North Pacific seek solutions to common challenges and endeavor to achieve greater success through unity of effort,” said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft. “All six nations present at the forum conduct a combined operation on an annual basis that includes coordinated surveillance flights, sharing of information and law enforcement action against the environmentally caustic method of high seas driftnet fishing that slaughters marine mammals and exacerbates dwindling fish stocks in the North Pacific Ocean. Through this combined operation, the fishing vessel Yin Yuan was seized while engaged in illegal, high seas drift net fishing.”

The forum also provides a unique opportunity to demonstrate an added capability that the Coast Guard offers the American public – that of successful operational diplomacy. Assets from the nations’ coast guards will perform numerous bilateral and multilateral operations and exercises within the framework of the forum and through the relationships developed as a result of it.

Operations at the forum are results-driven and aimed at improving U.S. mission capability and the capability of partner nations throughout the Pacific. Hosting the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum gives the U.S. an opportunity to work with Pacific nations in an effort to enhance maritime transportation safety and security – both critical in ensuring the continuous flow of the global supply chain.

“Our goal is one ocean, one vision as we progress cooperative exercises from the table top to the sea,” said the Commandant. “Exercises and scenarios developed during the forum improve each nation’s readiness and ability to operate collaboratively in the North Pacific.”

With nations operating alongside each other, they are better able to keep the North Pacific safe and secure. Each of the maritime nations benefits from the secure use of the oceans and also bears a common responsibility for maintaining maritime security, improved governance and reduced threats in this region. This will become increasingly more important as the Asia-Pacific region continues to become a region of growing national and global interest.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft engages with senior maritime officials from North Pacific nations aboard Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Patrick Kelley.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft engages with senior maritime officials from North Pacific nations aboard Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Patrick Kelley.

The North Pacific is varied in use and vast in size. Success in the region cannot be achieved by any one country acting unilaterally, but requires a coalition of nations maintaining a strong, united international front. The North Pacific Coast Guard Forum does just that in bringing nations together to maintain the flow of maritime commerce and the ability to counter new and emerging threats.

“No one country has the capacity to meet all of the challenges in the North Pacific,” said the Commandant. “We must work together toward solutions that make the Pacific safe and secure as we embrace our motto – one ocean, one vision.”

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