USCG Cutter Walnut conducts community engagements in Samoa
Apia, SAMOA — The Coast Guard Cutter Walnut (WLB 205) crew conducted a three-day port call and several engagements in Samoa the first week of August.
The crew is participating in Operation Aiga to conduct fisheries law enforcement and strengthen partnerships in American Samoa and Samoa throughout August.
"We had an excellent port call here in Apia and opportunities to engage with the Government of Samoa, Pacific Transnational Crime Coordination Center, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, and the students of Lufilufi Primary School," said Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Jasnoch, commanding officer of Walnut. "The school visit was incredible, and I don't know who had more fun, the students or the crew!"
The crew of Walnut along with Charge d'Affairs Tony Greubel visited LufiLufi Primary School. The team shared time with the students, reading and aiding in English instruction, and then singing, dancing, and playing sports. They also undertook meetings with the Pacific Transnational Crime Coordination Center and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
"The visit was capped off with a reception aboard Walnut. We were pleased to have so many honored guests and our shipriders join us ahead of this patrol," said Jasnoch. "Our hats off to our culinary team who did an incredible job of catering the event and showcasing the talent of our Coast Guard culinary specialist."
Acting Prime Minister of Samoa Fiame Naomi Mataafa welcomed Lt. Cmdr. Chris Jasnoch and the crew of Walnut, acknowledging the importance of Operation Aiga. She expressed gratitude to CDA Tony Greubel of the U.S. Embassy of Samoa and the U.S. Coast Guard in addressing Samoa's request for a vessel to patrol Samoa's waters to patrol Samoa's waters in the absence of Nafanua I.
At the conclusion of the port call, the crew took on shipriders from Samoa's Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to enforce sovereign laws in their EEZ and deter IUU fishing. Additional shipriders include two officers from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority and a U.S. Marine Corps linguist versed in Chinese. This patrol effort is being undertaken in coordination with Australia and New Zealand as Samoa transitions their organic patrol assets, upgrading their fleet.
The crew of the USCGC Joseph Gerczak (WPC 1126) is also operating in the region to conduct fisheries and enforce federal law in the American Samoa EEZ. Both cutter crews will also respond to any emergent search and rescue needs in the area and seek out opportunities to work with partner nation assets. The U.S. Coast Guard and partners combat illegal fishing and other maritime threats across the Pacific, including providing support to Pacific Island Forum nations to protect their resource security and maritime sovereignty.
Worldwide tuna is a $7 billion annual industry, and roughly 70 percent of tuna comes from the Western and Central Pacific. These pelagic fish migrate, and the U.S. and its partners must protect the resource from illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing. Estimates place the value of IUU fishing around $616 million annually. The Coast Guard exercises 11 bilateral shiprider agreements with Pacific Island Forum nations to help ensure regional security and maritime sovereignty.
"We are pleased to provide this presence and work with our partners to support our allies and neighbors in the Pacific, essential to a free and open Indo-Pacific," said Jasnoch.