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Cutter Kukui returns from South Pacific patrol

The Honolulu-based Coast Guard cutter Kukui returned Friday from a 54-day patrol in the South Pacific.

On the voyage, the cutter became the first U.S. vessel to exercise a new bilateral agreement with Tuvalu, conducting joint patrols and citing four fishing vessels for major violations of Tuvalu law, the Coast Guard said. In Funafuti for a port call, the crew was hosted by Tuvalu Prime Minister Willy Telavi and the maritime police force.

The cutter crew also boarded numerous vessels in the exclusive economic zones of Kiribati, the Cook Islands, American Samoa and Tonga, finding minor violations, according to the 14th Coast Guard District headquarters. 

The cutter stopped in Papeete, Tahiti, and Bora Bora for rest and to resupply.

While in Papeete, Kukui’s captain, Cmdr. Bob Little, paid diplomatic calls on Oscar Temaru, president of French Polynesia; Richard Didier, the French high commissioner; and Rear Adm. Jerome Regnier, commander of French military forces in the Pacific. 

The Kukui then participated in Operation Kuru Kuru, a 18-nation effort orchestrated by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency. Kuru Kuru was the largest operation to reduce illegal and unreported fishing to ever take place in the region, the Coast Guard said.

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