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PALAU SIGNS ‘SHIPRIDER’ AGREEMENT WITH U.S. Enables security partnership with U.S. Coast Guard

By Nazario Rodriguez Jr.

KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon, April 7, 2008) — Palau became the first country in the Pacific to sign a permanent "ship rider" agreement with the United States.

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. William Marhoffer said this bilateral agreement authorizes Palau’s law enforcement officers to board Coast Guard ships during operations against maritime transnational crime and illegal fishing.

Marhoffer said this will expand Palau’s capability to monitor and enforce its laws against illegal activities within its 200-mile exclusive economic zone.

The U.S. may also sign similar agreements with other Pacific countries, including the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Cook Islands.

An official of the U.S. State Department signed the agreement last month with Palau Minister of State Temmy Shmull.

Marhoffer said FSM marine law enforcers were the first to ride with the Coast Guard ships during an operation when two Japanese vessels were apprehended for illegal fishing.

But a permanent ship-rider agreement has not been signed between the U.S. and the FSM.

This week, the top officer of the 14th U.S. Coast Guard District in Hawaii will visit Palau.

Rear Adm. Sally Brice O’Hara will be here on April 7-8 for a search and rescue exercise with Palau’s Division of Marine Law Enforcement.

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