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US – Independent State of Samoa signs addendum to existing maritime law enforcement agreement in the Pacific

HONOLULU, USA – The United States and the Independent State of Samoa had the honour to share and sign an addendum to the existing 2012 Bilateral Agreement, at US Embassy Apia in Samoa, to continue and expand operational cooperation to suppress illicit transnational maritime activity, on April 5, 2024.

“In partnership with Samoa, the United States stands committed to safeguarding and ensuring security of Samoa’s economic exclusive zone, by preserving its marine resources, environment, promoting sustainable development for future generations” said US Embassy Apia, Samoa’s Charge d’Affaires, Noriko Horiuchi.

The US Coast Guard and Independent State of Samoa signed the addendum to the existing Bilateral Agreement allowing enhanced maritime law enforcement operations, maritime domain awareness and assists with implementation of integrated operations between the US and Samoa by extending US Coast Guard operability to deter predatory and illegal fishing activities in Samoa’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The enhanced maritime law enforcement agreement represents another tool for Samoa to use to help combat transnational illicit maritime activity and illegal fishing activities within its EEZ. This enhanced agreement enables Samoa to request the US Coast Guard to inspect vessels and enforce their coastal state regulations without a Samoan officer present. This agreement does not replace the joint work conducted with Samoan shipriders; rather, it augments the capability and plays a crucial role in protecting marine ecosystems and the sustainable livelihoods they support.

These enhanced agreements demonstrate the United States’ commitment to a stable, secure and prosperous Pacific region. The strengthened partnerships in the Pacific have been invaluable in increasing the number of boardings within partners’ EEZs, which in turn has led to the deterrence, observation and reporting of vessel crew activities and fishing operations for partner nation’s enforcement agencies.

This advancement follows the similar agreements signed by the Federated States of Micronesia in October 2022, the bilateral defense agreement signed with Papua New Guinea in May 2023, and the enhanced maritime bilateral agreement with the Republic of Palau in August 2023.

“We’re honoured to sign this enhanced maritime bilateral agreement with our valued partner, the Independent State of Samoa. This agreement strengthens our collaborative efforts within the region,” said Capt. Tom D’Arcy, chief of response for US Coast Guard District Fourteen in Honolulu. “This agreement serves as a testament to the importance of maritime security in maintaining national sovereignty and regional stability, and we look forward to working even closer with Samoa to effectively address common maritime challenges in the Pacific.”

Through bilateral law enforcement agreements, community engagements and senior leader visits, like the recent US Coast Guard Commandant visit, and subject matter exchanges between maritime agencies, we continue to demonstrate how these partnerships significantly enhance our collective capacity to safeguard shared resources and build a prosperous Oceania that is inclusive and secure for all law-abiding nations.

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