Our boat forces tour continues this week with Station Monterey, Calif. With a sizable area of responsibility and a large fishing community the station is charged with protecting one of the richest marine environments on the planet.
The station’s AOR spans 120 miles of coast line from Point Ano Nuevo in the north to the Monterey/San Luis Obispo county line in the south. Offshore is the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, a Federally protected marine area. Supporting one of the world’s most diverse marine ecosystems, it is home to numerous mammals, seabirds, fishes, invertebrates and plants in a remarkably productive coastal environment.
The crew here will conduct roughly 200 law enforcement boardings a year. Most of these revolve around the thriving fishing community.
“Fisheries are one of our primary missions at Station Monterey,” said Lt. John Suckow, executive officer at the station. It’s not a simple task either.
According to Suckow, a standard fisheries boarding involves ensuring that the master is licensed and has proper fishery permits, ensuring the catch meets federal fishery regulations concerning minimum size, maximum catch amounts, fishing gear regulations, etc. In addition, a safety inspection is performed to ensure the vessel meets all safety requirements.
“Coast Guard personnel go through either boarding team member or boarding officer training and certification. Then there is annual fisheries training,” said Suckow.
The regulations around fisheries are complicated and come from both federal and state government. The allowable catch often changes frequently as scientists monitor populations and activity of stocks. Working with partner agencies enhances the station’s ability to be an effective partner in protecting these living resources.
“Station Monterey has a very close working relationship with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, California Fish and Game and U.S. Fish and Wildlife,” said Suckow. So much so that NOAA keeps offices for its officers at the station. “Inter-agency communication is the norm here, resulting in frequent joint agency operations.”
For the crew at the station, working on the lush Central California Coast is a demanding but rewarding experience.
“Monterey is a beautiful area to work,” said Suckow. “The area’s temperate climate, renowned marine wildlife, abundance of local attractions, and role in California’s history make it an extremely popular area to live.”