Historic agreement gives Vanuatu access to US Coast Guard vessels for maritime law enforcement

Minister for Internal Affairs Alfred Maoh and US Ambassador ot Vanuatu Catherine Ebert-Gray at the signing of the Law Enforcement Accord and Ship Rider Agreement between the two countries. Photo: US Embassy Port Moresby

Minister for Internal Affairs Alfred Maoh and US Ambassador to Vanuatu Catherine Ebert-Gray sign the Law Enforcement Accord and Ship Rider Agreement last Monday. Photo: US Embassy Port Moresby

Vanuatu and the United States have sealed a new maritime law enforcement agreement. The Law Enforcement Accord and Ship Rider Agreement between the two countries, signed on Monday, will allow Vanuatu’s law enforcement officers to use United States Coast Guard ships as platforms for boarding suspicious ships anywhere in Vanuatu’s EEZ. This is to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activity. Other Pacific countries to have signed similar agreements with the USA are Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, FSM and the Cook Islands. Ambassador Catherine Ebert-Gray said that the United States wants to build maritime security in partnership with Pacific island countries. The agreement has helped Kiribati achieve US$4 million in fines in a single year. (Radio Vanuatu)

The first ever off-loading of frozen tuna fish from the Vanuatu EEZ will be witnessed tomorrow morning at the Sino/Vanuatu Fisheries in Port Vila, the joint venture intending to operate from the allegedly inappropriate site at Blacksands. Fifty tons of albacore tuna will be off-loaded from 6am. Sino/Vanuatu has 47 off-loadings out of an allowable 70 such in a year. All Vanuatu-registered such vessels must deposit their catch in Vanuatu. Tomorrow’s off-loading will be experimental. (Radio Vanuatu)

The Asian Development Bank and Vanuatu have signed a new agreement this week. It will enable a strengthening of development programs underway. (Radio Vanuatu)

The main news expected today and awaited by mainstream and social media did not happen as expected. No judgement has been announced in the Constitutional case of the 14 MPs jailed in relation to bribery charges. They were in court this morning together with their legal counsels, led by the former Attorney-General and present Opposition Leader Ishmael Kalsakau. The court seemed to have been politically packed as the case was not actually listed, even as recently as 4:30pm yesterday, but half an hour before the start time of 9am today every seat was taken. Kalsakau again raised the fundamental MP rights issue and problems seen with prosecutions starting when a Parliamentary sitting is due. Justice Chetwynd Geoghegan regards the issues as important. Judgement is reserved. The matter is a priority. Release of the decision will be made in due course.