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Australian Customs forms new links with US Coast Guard

by ACBPS/Sail-World Cruising on 10 Nov 2013
Drugs found by authorities on this sailing boat SW
The age of being easily able to get prohibited items into Australia undetected via a sailing boat might be well and truly over with the new links that the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) is forming with the US Coastguard.

There has been a growing tendency for drug importers to the South Pacific to use the low profile nature of a sailing boat hidden among the scores which make their way across the Pacific each year to carry their lode. See Sail-World http://www.sail-world.com/Cruising/NH/Authorities-on-alert-for-drugs-across-the-Pacific/104563!story.

The ACBPS has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) to enhance cooperation between the two agencies.

The agreement was signed in Washington this week by the Chief Executive Officer ACBPS, Michael Pezzullo, and Assistant Commandant, USCG Intelligence and Criminal Investigations, Rear Admiral Christopher J. Tomney.

It is part of a broad program of reform within ACBPS, which includes a commitment to working proactively with trusted partners globally.

Mr Pezzullo said the agreement reflected the common interest of Australia and the United States in meeting the challenge of securing the global maritime domain against a range of shared threats and risks, from piracy to illegal foreign fishing and people smuggling.

'The threats faced at the Australian border are increasingly global in nature. It is only by working in partnership that we can adequately respond to those threats and contribute to international efforts to secure a domain crucial to international trade, economic activity and prosperity,' Mr Pezzullo said.

The MOU with USCG provides a formal framework for the sharing of information and experience which will help protect the respective maritime areas of both nations and those across the region. Both agencies have already reaped benefits from co-operation.

Mr Pezzullo said ACBPS had gained significant insights from the USCG experience with vessel acquisition and programs, contributing to the success of the ACBPS Cape Class patrol boat initiative.

'We have also exchanged information relating to the potential of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for maritime surveillance tasks,' he said.

The formal MOU between ACBPS and USCG is expected to pave the way for further cooperation in areas such as marine training, personnel deployment and officer exchanges.

'It allows us to take our level of co-operation to the next level, beyond dialogue to deeper engagement and active co-operation in a range of areas. This is a key plank of the modernisation of the ACBPS and the changes being implemented as part of our Blueprint for Reform 2013-18,' Mr Pezzullo said.

The Blueprint for Reform 2013-18 can be found at: http://www.customs.gov.au/site/Reformquicklinks.asp
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