In a reaffirmation of ongoing cooperative efforts, the Russia and U.S. coast guards have finalized and signed an agreement on joint actions dealing with increased vessel traffic and illegal and unreported fishing in the countries’ northern waters.
U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, District 17 commander, and Russian Lt. Gen. Rafael Daerbaev, chief of the Northeast Border Guard of the Coast Guard of the Russian Federal Security Service, singed the document of understanding Wednesday in Juneau.
Since 1995, the two coast guards have been meeting twice a year to discuss cooperative efforts in operations regarding illegal and unreported fishing, ongoing and future operations and law enforcement in the Arctic, Bearing Sea and North Pacific waters of the U.S. and Russia.
The meetings are held alternatively in Alaska and in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia.
Cooperative operations are a routine function of the U.S. and Russian coast guards. They enforce fisheries laws, respond to distress at sea and enforce the law along the U.S. and Russian Maritime Boundary Line in the Bering Sea.
“Cooperation and collaboration are the best ways to accomplish common goals in order to ensure safety of life at sea and protection of our environment,” Ostebo stated in a release.
An example is the Arctic Shield joint action the U.S. and Russian coast guards have scheduled for this summer. District 17 spokesman Jonathan Lally, said in a phone interview.
With the arctic ice edge breaking up and waterways opening there is the possibility of increased vessel traffic in arctic waters, Petty Officer 3rd Class Lally said.
“The Coast Guard is looking at operation up in the Arctic at those times when the ice edge is so far north,” Lally said.
The April meetings in Juneau included a search and rescue demonstration conducted by the Coast Guard and Air Station Sitka, with 45-foot response boat and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter.
“We have been conducting these meetings with Russia since 1995 and that is to keep the working relationship and cooperative efforts as (they have) been,” Lally said. “To keep that relationship on good terms.” And “reduce and hopefully stop any illegal and unreported fishing,” Lally said.
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