On March 22, the governments of Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama and the United States of America held a high-level dialogue on the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor (CMAR) in San José , in Costa Rica. During the dialogue, Undersecretary Jose W. Fernandez and Assistant Secretary Monica P. Medina announced the U.S. government’s support for CMAR. The US government will work with the governments of the four CMAR countries to identify opportunities for US engagement.
CMAR, announced by the presidents of Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Panama at COP26, is an initiative to connect several existing marine protected areas and create an uninterrupted and sustainably managed biological corridor spanning more than 500,000 square kilometres. The CMAR initiative includes a world-renowned ecosystem and will connect Cocos, Coiba, Galápagos, Gorgona and Malpelo Islands in a marine biosphere reserve.
The CMAR initiative will contribute to the goal of conserving 30% of the global ocean by 2030; preserve the migratory routes of sea turtles, whales, sharks and rays; combat the degradation of ocean ecosystems, overfishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; improve marine habitat conservation; and help protect marine biodiversity from the impacts of climate change.
Major U.S. government activities in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape are described below.
- Signed in late 2021, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Partnership for Sustainable Fisheries Initiative will help train port authorities and build the capacity of the Colombia, Ecuador and Peru to face illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. NOAA and other federal agencies are also beginning to engage with partners in the region to strengthen the sustainable management of marine protected areas and the conservation and restoration of blue carbon habitats.
- The U.S. government has provided Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama with access to SeaVision, a Department of Transportation-led program that allows partner nations to access and share U.S. maritime domain awareness information and collaborate with maritime partners.
- US Southern Command, in partnership with Florida International University, is working with the NGO Global Fishing Watch to advance awareness, detection and deterrence of IUU fishing in the region and to further enable countering IUU fishing efforts thanks to the sharing of data and the exchange of subjects.
- To operationalize the high seas boarding and inspection procedures of the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement in the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization and to combat IUU fishing in the region , the United States Coast Guard (USCG) deployed the Cutter Stone last fall to Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Panama, expanding regional interoperability and patrolling sovereign waters to deter illegal fishing.
- The USCG and the Department of State are supporting the Colombian and Ecuadorian Coast Guards with mobile training teams. Mobile Training Teams provide host nations with a variety of specialized programs including search and rescue, law enforcement, boat operations, outboard engine maintenance, marine operations and planning and IUU fishing.
- The Ministry of Labor awarded a $5 million grant in December 2021 for an International Labor Organization project in Ecuador and Peru to strengthen working conditions and combat IUU fishing in coastal communities.
- In fiscal year 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conducted 6,590 maritime patrol hours with Colombian, Costa Rican, Ecuadorian, and Panamanian partners. These efforts resulted in the prohibition of approximately 201,450 pounds of cocaine and 49,820 pounds of marijuana.
- The United States Navy has installed Automatic Identification System antennas along the Colombian coast to support maritime domain awareness efforts.
- State Department installs radar and builds Coast Guard station and pier on Gorgona Island, purchases $2.6 million worth of boat motors to improve Coast Guard operational readiness Colombians and funds the upgrade of the Colombian Navy’s maritime patrol aircraft.
- The Enterprise for the Americas Initiative and the Rainforest Conservation Act provide annual funding to Fundación Malpelo to protect the Malpelo Wildlife Sanctuary.
- The USCG provides Resident Marine Boarding Officer training in Colombia using international military training funds and has conducted key engagements with Colombian Navy leadership to discuss outlook deployment and implementation plan USCG IUU Fisheries Strategy 2021.
- The Department of State facilitated the donation of 200 Vessel Monitoring System transponders for the national fishing fleet and awarded two Central American Regional Security Initiative grants totaling $500,000 to Costa Rican NGOs to promote transparent fisheries governance and data accessibility in 2021.
- The Department of State and the Costa Rica Coast Guard (CRCG) have created a 10-year strategic plan that includes the creation of major technical maintenance facilities on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts and the creation of a small center of excellence for maintenance training and maintenance/supply. deposit.
- Two USCG Curriculum Advisors funded by the Department of State support the CRCG’s Marine Engineering and Law Enforcement program and specialized training at the CRCG Academy.
- The USCG supports Costa Rican maritime law enforcement operations by embarking troopers and providing USCG law enforcement detachments to serve aboard Costa Rican surface assets. The USCG also transferred former USCG Cutters Long Island and Roanoke Island to the CRCG in 2017 through the Surplus Defense Articles Program and transferred a third cutter in 2018 to use for parts. The cutters extended Costa Rica’s maritime coverage.
- The Department of State is funding several Ecuadorian Coast Guard capacity building initiatives and equipment repair and plans to provide sensors and communications equipment to the Ecuadorian Navy to expand maritime domain awareness and help combat IUU fishing.
- USAID and the Department of State are funding training for prosecutors to prosecute IUU fishing and wildlife trafficking. For example, two Ecuadorian Galápagos prosecutors participated in a wildlife crime scene investigation course in October 2021, and the Ecuadorian environmental police unit received training on combating cash trafficking. wild in November 2021.
- Since 2018, the US government has provided a Lockheed P-3 Orion aircraft and a Boeing 707 equipped with an airborne warning and control system to periodically conduct operations and collect information on illicit activities related to drug trafficking and to illegal fishing.
- In August 2020, the USCG Cutter Bertholf and the Ecuadorian Navy vessel LAE Isla San Cristobal jointly patrolled over 3,000 square nautical miles of Ecuadorian and international waters to detect and deter illegal fishing near the Galápagos Islands. In November 2021, Ecuadorian observers boarded the USCG Cutter Mohawk as part of a joint patrol in Galapagos to combat drug trafficking and IUU fishing.
- In 2021, the Department of Defense (DoD) donated a near-shore patrol vessel, naval maintenance equipment, and spare parts for high-speed interceptor boats operated by the National Naval Air Service of Panama (SENAN). The Department of State donated equipment to SENAN to support their large ship maintenance facility. The DoD plans to donate one maritime patrol aircraft in 2022, and the Department of State plans to donate two interceptor boats in 2022 and two more interceptor boats in 2023.
- As part of the Port Enforcement Task Force, a joint operational entity, Panamanian customs and police authorities and their American counterparts, including the DEA, HSI and CBP, have expanded their collaborative capabilities in targeting, inspection, interdiction and seizure of undeclared goods and narcotics and illegally fished species.
- In February 2021, Panama’s Ministry of Public Security codified a US-led initiative to design and build a Joint Regional Air and Naval Operations Center (CROAN) and form a Joint Maritime Force (JMF-Panama) to combat against narcotics and IUU fishing.
- The Department of State is funding regional NGO MarViva to build enforcement and outreach capacity, with a focus on deterring IUU fishing in the Gulf of Chiriqui.
- In April 2022, the Department of State will host a joint workshop in Panama on Smart Ports and the Prevention of Exploitation of Critical Assets in the Maritime Sector as part of the Strategic Ports Initiative.
For more information, please see the Media Note on U.S. Government Support for the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor
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