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TechNet Asia-Pacific: Is the Coast Guard Fighting Embryonic Terrorism in the Pacific?

November 7, 2008
By Henry Kenyon
Rear Adm. Manson K. Brown, USCG, is the commander of the 14th Coast Guard District.

The U.S. Coast Guard's fight against minor maritime law violations may be a precursor to terrorism activities, according to one of its district commanders. Rear Adm. Manson K. Brown, USCG, commander, 14th Coast Guard District, described how fishing violations in U.S. exclusive economic zones may be laying the groundwork for terrorist actions in the same manner that piracy and terrorism have become linked.

Solving the problem of illegal fishing in the 14th Coast Guard District-which spans vast areas of the Pacific near many small island nations-may also position the Coast Guard to deal with emerging terrorist threats in the region. Tight federal budgets preclude the possibility of the Coast Guard adding large numbers of ships and crews, the admiral said. Instead, the Coast Guard must rely on technologies to fill the gap.

And, just as with conventional military operations, international collaboration is another key to success. Fish poachers can flee into waters of another sovereign island nation and grab fish there, which effectively defeats U.S. efforts to curb illegal fishing that threatens to deplete stocks. Adm. Brown described how the U.S. Coast Guard has a cooperative agreement with the Cook Islands that allows that country's officials to use U.S. vessels as platforms for chasing poachers in their own waters. The admiral is pursuing similar agreements with other small island nations, and this collaboration can serve to help combat terrorism if it emerges in the region.

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