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TRANSCRIPT: Bloggers Roundtable - The Maritime Law-Enforcement Mission in Africa
<i>During a Department of Defense Bloggers Roundtable, bloggers had the opportunity to participate in a discussion with Commander Scott Bauby, commanding officer of U.S. Coast Guard cutter Legare, October 13, 2009. <br /> <br />As commanding
During a Department of Defense Bloggers Roundtable, bloggers had the opportunity to participate in a discussion with Commander Scott Bauby, commanding officer of U.S. Coast Guard cutter Legare, October 13, 2009.

As commanding officer of the Legare, Bauby led a three-month mission to Morocco, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Cape Verde, where he and crew members worked with those nations on maritime law-enforcement operations.

After a brief introduction, bloggers began asking questions, many of which centered on illegal fishing along the African Coast, specifically with regards to the seizure in August of a Taiwanese-flagged fishing vessel.

"The Yu Feng was illegally fishing within the exclusive economic zone of Sierra Leone. So the government of Sierra Leone directed us to seize the vessel and persons aboard and then escort the vessel back to their capital city of Freetown," said Bauby.

Bauby emphasized the importance of providing African partners with the necessary resources so that they can patrol their own waters and reduce the occurrence of illegal fishing and other activities harmful to coastal nations.

"By us operating offshore for a week at a time, we were able to discern the traffic patterns, the specific areas where vessels were fishing, and then of course some areas where foreign-flagged vessels were operating in their waters to help give them a better picture of where they could focus their patrol efforts in the future," Bauby added.

The complete transcript of the Bloggers Roundtable is available below: PETTY OFFICER WILLIAM SELBY (Office of the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs): Hello. I'd like to welcome you all to the Department of Defense's Bloggers Roundtable for Tuesday, October 13th, 2009. My name is Petty Officer William Selby, with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Public Affairs, and I'll be moderating our call today. A note to our bloggers on the line today: Please remember to clearly state your name and blog or organization in advance of your question; respect our guest's time, keeping questions succinct and to the point. Today, our guest is U.S. Coast Guard Commander Scott Bauby, commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard Legare. Did I say that correctly? CMDR. BAUBY: That's correct. PETTY OFFICER SELBY: All right, and -- sorry about that, sir -- and who will be discussing the Legare's role in Africa Partnership Station while working with African coastal nations in real-time law- enforcement missions. And, sir, if you have any opening statements, you can go ahead with that right now. CMDR. BAUBY: Well, in the spirit of keeping it brief, I'd just like to say to the group it's a pleasure to join you this morning. I'm welcome to answer any of your questions. We had a productive and exciting deployment working with our African partners, and I'm excited to answer any questions and describe a little bit of our accomplishments. Our main mission was to conduct maritime law-enforcement operations jointly with our African partners along their coastlines, patrolling their sovereign waters, in the spirit of exchanging tactics and procedures and building our relationships. So on that note, I'd just like to open it up to what you're interested in talking about. PETTY OFFICER SELBY: Thank you, sir. And Taylor, you were first on the line, so you can go ahead with your question. Q Sir, this is Taylor Kiland, with the Navy Memorial. We created a blog called The-Navy-Log-Blog. And I'm interested in this fishing bust that took place off the coast of Sierra Leone. Could you tell us a little bit about that? CMDR. BAUBY: You bet. We had been operating with our partners from Sierra Leone for about two days, and we encountered a Taiwanese- flagged fishing vessel off the coast of Sierra Leone. We approached the vessel right around sunset, and it was obvious the vessel had been engaged in fishing. We could tell by a line being in the water from the vessel. And once we approached and boarded the vessel, we confirmed that the vessel had been fishing in that area. And just like our laws and most laws around the world, the Yu Feng was illegally fishing within the exclusive economic zone of Sierra Leone. So the government of Sierra Leone directed us to seize the vessel and persons aboard and then escort the vessel back to their capital city of Freetown. Q When did this take place? CMDR. BAUBY: That's a great question. I believe it was 18 August. And I'll confirm that date here in a minute or two. Q Okay. PETTY OFFICER SELBY: And Beth, you were next on the line, so you can go ahead with your question. Q Good morning, sir. Thank you so much for your time this morning. Could you tell me what your area of operation was and also what nations that you were engaged with during your recent deployment? CMDR. BAUBY: You bet. The four nations that we worked directly with -- first of all, we worked with Morocco. That was the first country. The second nation we worked with was Senegal. The third nation was Sierra Leone, and then the fourth nation that we operated with was Cape Verde, which are islands off the west -- northwest coast of Africa. And so our area of operations ranged from, you would say, the northwest coast of Morocco, right at the entrance to the Straits of Gibraltar, all the way down to the entrance to the Gulf of Guinea there down by Sierra Leone. PETTY OFFICER SELBY: Thank you, sir. And Taylor, we can go back to you. And to the bloggers, since we only have two on the line, if you guys would like to follow up on any of your questions, feel free to do so. Q This is Taylor Kiland again. You said this is the largest -- I'm -- have a follow-up question about the fishing bust. You said it was the largest-ever illegal fishing bust in Sierra Leone. Is it common to capture illegal fishing -- fish -- fishing boats out off the coast of Sierra Leone? CMDR. BAUBY: That's a great question, and of course, for the United States to cooperate and do that, this was the first time. From what we understood, working with our Sierra Leone partners, they patrol their own waters infrequently, just based on a lack of resources. They have a very few small patrol boats. And they mentioned -- I believe they had three or four fisheries cases over the past two decades, but they were smaller cases, citing vessels for not having a correct permit or illegal net sizes. So I would say it's uncommon for them to have serious enforcement action against fishing vessels along their coast. Q So with the extra resources that you bring to the table, they're actually able to put some teeth into this enforcement? CMDR. BAUBY: Exactly. And just as the nature of our mission over there, one of the things is building their maritime domain awareness. So by us operating offshore for a week at a time, we were able to discern the traffic patterns, the specific areas where vessels were fishing, and then of course some areas where foreign-flagged vessels were operating in their waters to help give them a better picture of where they could focus their patrol efforts in the future. Q And this is a Taiwanese boat? Did you -- were they sent back to Taiwan? Or were they prosecuted in Sierra Leone? CMDR. BAUBY: The case in the vessel and the crew members were all -- that case was adjudicated in Sierra Leone. I believe the case is still ongoing, and I believe the vessel is still located pierside in Freetown. I'm unsure about whether the crew members have been sent back to Taiwan, though. Q Do you know if -- I'm sorry. CMDR. BAUBY: Sorry. No, go ahead. Q Do you know if illegal fishing is -- how do I phrase this -- is Sierra Leone one of the places around the coastal waters there where they experience the highest incidence, occurrences of illegal fishing, or is it common all over the coast? CMDR. BAUBY: That's a very good question. I would say -- based on my limited experience, which is three months operating over there, I would say it's a problem throughout the coast of Africa, just based on the scarce resources they have to patrol their own waters. Some countries, such as Cape Verde, have more I guess you would say mature fisheries, regulations in fisheries, permitting processes -- so they actually permit large numbers of European Union-nation fishing vessels to fish in their waters. They have a very specific process, whereas countries like Sierra Leone, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau and those countries have a -- I guess a more developing system of enforcing their own fishery laws. So Sierra Leone in particular, Senegal, the countries further south and Guinea, I think they have a very serious problem of controlling the fishing vessels that are permitted to fish, and then also preventing other vessels, such as Yu Feng to just come into their waters and -- essentially poach fishing. Q Right. Thank you. PETTY OFFICER SELBY: You can go ahead, Beth. Q Thank you. Sir, you mentioned MDA. I was curious as to whether or not this was part of the partnership that the United States is participating with to develop more of a global MDA. Is this the first time these countries have participated, and is there going to be an ongoing partnership between the United States, whether it's Coast Guard or Navy with these countries in that area, in regard to building a -- more of a global MDA? CMDR. BAUBY: That's a great question, and I would say the short answer is yes, very much so. All of these -- the four countries we worked with had previously worked with the United States in developing their domain awareness, either working in small training engagements, working directly with some of our agencies, in building out their AIS capabilities, which tracks merchant vessels offshore. And then in this case, we were able to record information on where all the vessels were moving and give them an actual electronic picture of where the vessels were moving, along their coastline. The last part of your question, about the future plans, from what I gather, understanding AFRICOM's intentions and the Navy Sixth Fleet, they definitely intend to establish a long-term relationship with all of these countries, along the African coast, to help them develop their domain awareness. I believe also in Cape Verde, there is an ongoing project to help them actually establish sites, radar sites, to extend their AIS capabilities around the islands. Q Outstanding. Sir, I'm actually from the Navy world, and a little bit of the Army in my past. But many of us are not as up to date or aware of the role that the Coast Guard is playing, outside of U.S. waters. Can you just speak briefly to some of -- some of the areas that the Coast Guard is engaged, in AFRICOM and other areas around the world? CMDR. BAUBY: Sure. The Coast Guard -- in our specific case, Legare was assigned to -- works directly for the Navy Sixth Fleet, however they wanted to employ us. And in this case, linking up with their small navies, coast guards and then their maritime patrol agencies, such as the gendarme and maritime police, and patroling their sovereign waters is essentially what we do in the Coast Guard. So a short answer to your question is, I would say a majority of the navies around the world are in fact coast guards. They're specifically dedicated and focused on patrolling their own sovereign waters, enforcing laws within their waters. So we would view them as coast guard. So the U.S. Coast Guard is our best partnership tool to link and work directly with them. And I think the Navy and the Coast Guard both recognize that. And based on resources, our Coast Guard commandant is committed to dedicating a certain number of ships every year to work directly for the commanders overseas. And so I think this is a permanent and a long-term strategy. I know also in every country that we visited, they were very appreciative to have the Coast Guard there. Whether it's kind of a familiar face and someone who speaks their vocabulary and someone who on a daily basis is engaged in the same kind of missions they are, they were very appreciative to work with us. Q Super. Thank you. PETTY OFFICER SELBY: And back over to you, Taylor. Q I don't think I have any additional questions. PETTY OFFICER SELBY: And Beth, do you have any additional questions? Q I just wanted to -- now that you have completed this deployment, first I'd just like to know if you had a feel for how the crew felt about their mission. Being a Navy wife, I write also about the individual sailor and the family aspect, but also I wanted to know what is your future plan. Where are you heading from here? CMDR. BAUBY: Great. Well, about my shipmates and our families, I would say our crew was very excited for the mission. It's something unique that we got to do, something out of the ordinary. We got to see a part of the world that few people get to. So in that sense, the crew was very excited, from day one until we got back, about that opportunity. I would say that Coast Guardsmen are used to seeing the fruits of their labor on a daily basis, either seeing the person we pull out of the water or the person we arrest, and sometimes these engagement missions are more of a long-term investment. So at some ports, particularly with our Morocco and Senegal missions, we didn't necessarily board many boats and actually seize any vessels or persons, so the crew wasn't as excited about that part, I guess. The families -- we were able to send back digital pictures on a daily basis, and in some parts of the patrol were able to use Skype while we were under way. So this was the first time we were able to do that, and the families were very excited about that capability under way, and so I think they really enjoyed that, all the pictures and some of the memorabilia the crew brought back -- I think the families enjoyed that too. Second part of your question was my plans. You mean plans for Cutter Legare, or me personally? Q You personally, sir. Where are you heading from here? CMDR. BAUBY: That's a great question. I'm still negotiating with my wife. I'm either going to retire and teach high school at a local high school in Virginia, or I was recently selected for captain, and I'm going to see what the commandant and the Coast Guard have in store for me. But I hopefully will not move from Virginia. So I'm not sure if that answers your question -- Q (Off mike.) CMDR. BAUBY: -- as specifically as you wanted. Q Nope, that's perfect, sir. Thank you, and congratulations on your selection for captain. CMDR. BAUBY: Great. Thank you, Beth. PETTY OFFICER SELBY: Thank you, sir. And I guess if nobody else has any more questions, sir, if you have any closing comments today, you can go ahead with those now. CMDR. BAUBY: I don't think I have any other closing comments, unless anyone else in the group online has questions or if I didn't completely answer one of the questions. I don't think I have anything else really to add, other than it was a great deployment, and we really enjoyed working with the 6th Fleet, particularly Commodore Thebaud in Task Force 65 -- she was excellent to work for -- and Commodore Beck in Task Force 68. Within the Navy command, they were -- they were excellent bosses to work and sail for; gave us plenty of room to maneuver and exercise some initiative, which -- as a ship captain, that's the most important thing for us. So other than that, I think, I'm good. PETTY OFFICER SELBY: Well, thank you very much for your comments today, sir. And thank you to the bloggers for your questions. And thank you to everybody that helped set this up today. Q Thank you. PETTY OFFICER SELBY: You're welcome. And today's program will be available online at the bloggers link on dod.mil, where you'll be able to access a story based on today's call, along with source documents such as the audio file and transcripts. Again thank you, sir and our blogger participants. This concludes today's event. Feel free to disconnect at this time. END.
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