The audio file of this briefing is available here.

Moderator:  Thank you.  Good day, everyone, from the U.S. Department of State’s Asia Pacific Media Hub in Manila.  I am Zia Syed, the Hub Director, and I would again like to welcome our participants dialing in for this briefing.

Today, we are pleased to be joined from Washington, D.C., David Feith, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Regional and Security Policy and Multilateral Affairs in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs; and David Hogan, the Acting Director of the Office of Marine Conservation, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

We will begin today’s call with opening remarks from Deputy Assistant Secretary Feith and David Hogan.  We’ll try to get to as many questions as we can during the time that we have, which is approximately 30 minutes.

Finally, as a reminder, today’s call is on the record.  And with that, I will turn it over to DAS Feith.  Please go ahead.

DAS Feith:  Thank you, and thanks to everyone for calling in and for taking the time with us today to discuss the very important issue of illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing.  This is a subject of great concern all around the world and across the U.S. Government.  It is of particular concern across Asia and across the Pacific Ocean, from the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia to the Pacific Islands.  Across these vast areas are many of the world’s richest fisheries, and also many of the world’s worst volumes of illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing, especially from fishing fleets that come from the People’s Republic of China.

This, unfortunately, fits a pattern that we see from China – from illegal fishing in the oceans to maritime, to marine environmental destruction in the South China Sea, to choking off water flows down the Mekong River.  All of these are grave threats to livelihoods, sovereignty, and security across many countries, and all of these fit a clear pattern of Chinese Communist Party behavior, characterized by bullying, disrespect for international law, and environmental destruction.

As you know, fisheries employ millions of people around the Indo-Pacific region, from Southeast Asian coastal states to Pacific Island countries and beyond.  They provide sustenance to billions.  These natural resources are the birthright of these nations, the lifeblood of their coastal communities, and the livelihood of their citizens.  When these resources are stolen or destroyed, it is an assault on the citizens of these nations now and into the future.  The sort of IUU activity that we see threatens the sustainability of fisheries across the region, it takes money out of the pockets of law-abiding fishermen, and it facilitates labor abuses, human trafficking, and other crimes.

Globally, economic losses from IUU fishing are difficult to quantify, but there is little disagreement that it is in the billions or even tens of billions of U.S. dollars every year, and it disproportionately impacts some of the poorest countries in the world.

The People’s Republic of China has the largest distant-water fishing fleet in the world.  This fleet is subsidized by the Chinese Communist Party.  Chinese-flagged fishing vessels illegally fish in the Exclusive Economic Zones of coastal states around the globe, from the Western and Central Pacific, to the coasts of Africa and South America.  This includes fishing without permission and also overfishing licensing agreements.

In some areas, such as the Northern Pacific, stateless fishing vessels display characteristics of Chinese registration.  In addition, China’s maritime militia – estimated to include more than 3,000 vessels – actively carries out aggressive behavior on the high seas and in sovereign waters of other nations to coerce and intimidate legitimate fishers in support of the Chinese Communist Party’s long-term maritime strategic goals.

The PRC claims to be a responsible fishing nation with a, quote, “zero-tolerance policy” for illegal fishing.  But the record, unfortunately, shows otherwise.  In the South China Sea, the PRC is responsible for widespread devastation to the marine environment around militarized artificial islands.  One biologist at the University of Miami called this “the most rapid rate of permanent loss of coral reef area in human history.”

The PRC is ranked as the worst IUU fishing offender in the world by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Crime.  According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, Chinese ports are ranked as the most likely to process IUU-caught fish.  As the country with the world’s largest distant-water fishing fleet, the PRC has a special responsibility to follow international rules and norms, and to live up to its commitments.

Unfortunately, Beijing also acts to undermine other nations’ legitimate attempts to enforce the law.  We have seen disturbing reports recently, for example, that Beijing’s foreign minister has sought to condition other countries’ access to COVID vaccines on the release of Chinese fishermen detained for trespassing in their waters.  Tactics like these seek to replace international law with rule by threats and coercion.

It is a U.S. foreign policy and national security priority to combat IUU fishing.  The Department of State, working alongside our colleagues at the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Defense, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), are taking steps to mitigate IUU fishing activity even as we work to strengthen international law, address domestic concerns, and build sustainable management practices.

One example of this work is our effort to expand the number of “shiprider” agreements the U.S. Coast Guard has with countries around the region.  These agreements allow the partner country to enforce their domestic laws with the assistance of U.S. Coast Guard assets and personnel.  It is especially helpful in countries with limited law enforcement capacities and large Exclusive Economic Zones, as in the Pacific Islands.

When the U.S. fishing fleet fishes in international waters, it does so through negotiation with our partners and strict adherence to sustainable catch limits and international law.  The United States also partners with countries around the world to strengthen their capacity to combat IUU fishing from both domestic and foreign sources.  The U.S. provides capacity-building, training, and technical assistance directly to partner countries to strengthen national policy and legislative frameworks and operational capacities to carry out coordinated monitoring, control, and surveillance operations to combat IUU fishing.  For example, our Defense Department provides real-time vessel traffic monitoring free of charge to many countries via the SeaVision maritime domain awareness platform.

Our ask of Beijing is that Beijing exercise more responsible flag-state control over its vessels, and to demonstrate that it is taking necessary steps to ensure compliance with international norms and governance structures.  Sovereign nations must be allowed to benefit from their own economic resources.  Disregard for the sovereignty and territorial integrity by Chinese and other IUU-fishing perpetrators not only threatens the stability, food security, and economic development of other nations; it also threatens our basic international order.

We hope the Chinese Communist Party ends its destabilizing habit of empty environmental promises.  Beijing is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the largest source of marine debris, the world’s largest consumer of trafficked wildlife and timber products, and, as we are discussing tonight, the worst perpetrator of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.  Cleaning up this record is in the interest of all people and nations worldwide.

Thanks again to everyone who has called in tonight and to our colleagues in the Manila Media Hub.  I’m very glad now to pass it over to my colleague in our Oceans [and Environmental and Scientific Affairs] Bureau, David Hogan.  Thank you.

Mr. Hogan:  Thank you very much, Deputy Assistant Secretary Feith, and good morning to everyone.  I wanted to add a few specific and technical policy points to what DAS Feith has just relayed, which is a very good synopsis of the nature of the problem.

The United States has been working with partners around the globe to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and we have been a leader in the efforts to tackle IUU fishing, including multilateral work to strengthen the rules that govern international fisheries and bilateral engagement with the world’s flag, coastal, port, and market states to promote responsibility and accountability according to international standards.  The United States supports and promotes the implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement, a groundbreaking global treaty designed to ensure that catch from IUU fishing vessels cannot be offloaded in ports and enter the global market.  We are working at the World Trade Organization to discipline fisheries subsidies that support IUU fishing or contribute to overfishing and overcapacity.

Given the size and the global scope of the distant-water fishing fleet of the People’s Republic of China, anytime any vessel by that fleet participates in IUU fishing, it threatens food security, economic security, environmental productivity, and the basic ability of the ecosystem to support the commercially valuable fish stocks on which many of the coastal states, and almost all countries with seafood trade, rely.

A threat to economic security is a threat to national security.  The destabilizing effects of overfishing and collapsed fish stocks on coastal states, particularly in developing coastal states or Pacific Island countries, can mean conflict.  And it is the responsibility of the international community to address that before repetitive IUU fishing leads to these kinds of crises.  The United States views this as a high priority, as DAS Feith said, not only because of the impact on the commercially valuable fish stocks on which the United States and many other countries rely, but also because of the threat to economic security that is inherent in willful IUU fishing.

The People’s Republic of China has a full suite of flag-state responsibilities, and they need to do more.  They are capable of doing more and they choose not to, and this is the crux of the problem for us.  When we look at the science-based fisheries management regimes that have been negotiated all around the world, and the science-based fishery management regimes of each of the coastal states, whenever there is IUU fishing, there is a lack of data, there is uncertainty about the management measures that are in place, and even more conservative measures can still lead to unsustainable fishing and overfishing because we simply don’t know how many fish are coming out of the water.  When this is done in a systematic way by a flag state who is not controlling its vessels and whose vessels are violating the conditions of access to coastal state waters or violating internationally agreed rules, this undermines the entire international system for fisheries management and threatens economic security and food security and is something that is absolutely critical for developing coastal states where their economic development is based on continuing productivity of their fisheries.

When we have any conditions in the ocean which lead to a change in the status of fish stocks, IUU fishing makes those changes worse.  IUU fishing exacerbates other fisheries management issues and problems.  And so, it really is part of a complex of challenges the international community faces, and that is the reason why we place such a high priority on ending it.  The work that we’ve done – at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN to develop an international plan of action to combat and deter IUU fishing; the development and negotiation of the Port State Measures Agreement; the UN moratoria on high-seas driftnets and the other UN language that has been included in the annual fisheries resolution to address destructive fishing practices – all of this is intended to get at the problems that are created when flag states like the PRC do not fulfill their responsibilities, and do not enforce the rules for their own vessels, and turn a blind eye to the activities of those vessels.

When those vessels are engaged in IUU fishing, there is often also a tendency to engage in other practices that are negative for the marine environment or negative for the people that are engaged in those fisheries, and we see this as part of a larger problem and we’d like to make sure that the message gets out around the world that the international community – not just the United States – has a responsibility to hold the PRC accountable for these activities.  Thank you very much for your attention.

Moderator:  Thank you.  We will now begin the question and answer portion of today’s call.  Our first question will go to Colum Murphy from Bloomberg, calling in from Beijing.

Question:  Hi, can you hear me?

Moderator:  Yes, please go ahead.

Question:  Okay.  So yes, calling from Bloomberg in Beijing.  I just have a couple of points.  You talk a lot about the PRC, but can you help us understand in terms of scale, what other countries are also doing in this regard?  For example, Taiwan, Cambodia, and Vietnam – can you give us a sense of scale as to how much they are contributing to the problem?  And if so, what are you doing about these countries?  That’s just my first point.

I am also wondering if you could elaborate a little bit about that vaccine example that you gave, in terms of China using that as a sort of leverage in terms of seafarers in the region.

And, just one last point.  There’s been recent reports that the U.S. President, Donald Trump, is planning several new moves against China in the remaining weeks of his term, including moves to counter illegal fishing.  Can you share some specific actions that the U.S. Government is considering in terms of illegal fishing that we might expect to see in the coming weeks or months?  Thank you.

DAS Feith:  Thanks.  This is David Feith here.  I’ll take the questions in order.  On the question of other IUU actors, certainly we have a great interest in tracking and combating IUU fishing no matter its origin, and we certainly work with our law enforcement, and with our diplomatic tools, and with partner countries to combat IUU fishing regardless of its origin, and that remains an interest, as it has been for long standing.  For some of the particular details on scale, as you mentioned, of the different players, I would defer to Dave Hogan.

And before passing it over, I would just say on your second question, about the vaccine coercion example – we’ve seen this in some of the press reporting, for example, and we find it, unfortunately, a sort of characteristic kind of a move given some of the consistently coercive diplomacy that we’ve unfortunately seen from Beijing toward its neighbors and around the world.  And some of this obviously relates to COVID in particular, as with this case, but it’s hardly limited to that, and it’s a kind of coerciveness that is really not consistent with settling disputes by rules, respecting international law, respecting the laws of coastal states, and it is the sort of thing that we hope would – by exposure, by pushback – would cease to be such a common tool of diplomacy and statecraft out of Beijing.

Why don’t I leave it there and ask Dave to jump in, please.

Mr. Hogan:  Thanks, DAS Feith.  With regard to the difference in scope, I think the first point is the sheer size and scale of the PRC fleet has caught our attention.  There, of course, is IUU fishing going on around the world by vessels of many different flags, and our approach is consistent between and among all of them, which is to ensure that flag states are taking their full responsibility, that coastal states are developing, strengthening, and sharing information on maritime domain awareness and strengthening their enforcement capacities.  And we’re encouraging market states to do more with regard to ensuring that IUU-caught fish is not entering their markets and for port states to do the same.

But I think if we look at – even in the Southeast Asia region – the sheer numbers of PRC vessels, it makes them the number one priority.  I don’t think that it is in deference to any factors other than the quantity of fish that are being caught and the impact on the marine ecosystem.  That is why it is a priority for us.  But of course, we have been working very diligently, as DAS Feith said, to assist coastal states both in the Southeast Asian region and around the world to strengthen maritime domain awareness, to strengthen training and capacity for fisheries enforcement, and for the coastal states in the region to cooperate in the administration of their fisheries responsibilities and flag-state responsibilities and to cooperate on fisheries management so that any instances of IUU fishing between and among them are minimized and that they can devote their resources to combating the most egregious issues that they’re facing.  So that’s the point that I wanted to offer on that question.  Thank you.

Moderator:  Thank you.  Next if we could go to Dian Septiari from The Jakarta Post in Jakarta, Indonesia.  Dian, please go ahead.

Question:  Hi, can you hear me?

DAS Feith:  Yes.

Question:  I have two questions.  First, Indonesia at the ASEAN summit last week has raised a concern to China about the proposed [inaudible] bill, that might affect its interests in the South China Sea.  I wonder if the U.S. can have a little bit comment about the [inaudible] law itself and how it will impact countries in the region.

And secondly, in the Indonesia-U.S. relationship, I think in the Pompeo speech earlier this month, these is some kind of agreement about [inaudible].  I am wondering what kind of follow-up on those meetings there are, and Indonesia is attempting to regulate – just make some reforms in its regulations.  Can you give a little bit comment on that?  Thank you.

DAS Feith:  I’m sorry, could you just clarify your first question on the possible – you mentioned a bill or a law?

Question:  Yeah, the [inaudible] law by China.

DAS Feith:  Sorry, sorry, which law was that?

Question:  The – I think in the ASEAN summit last week, Indonesia raised concern that a construct law by China might affect its interests in the South China Sea because this will – probably can make Chinese authorities arrest their ships in its region, and its region, its water, I think.

DAS Feith:  Yes, thank you.  Well, I think that is certainly a set of issues that we are very concerned with and watching closely and engaging closely between the U.S. Government and the Indonesian Government and of course with governments all across the region.

We have, for example, spoken out very much about the completely baseless nature of the Nine-Dash Line claim, which of course comes down all the way across the South China Sea right up against the Indonesian coast, practically.  There are many issues with respect to the PRC claims and activities in the Natuna area which we know are of great interest to our Indonesian friends and which raise the sort of concerns that are shared all across the Southeast Asian coastal states – and really all across the world with the nature of the unlawful maritime claims of Beijing and their bullying and coercive practices in attempt to enforce those claims.

This was something that of course was much discussed in the ASEAN meetings that took place over the weekend, as has been the case for some time, and we were pleased to see again the clear statements from ASEAN countries about the importance of international law, the importance of the peaceful settlement of disputes, the importance of UNCLOS, the importance of the 2016 arbitral tribunal ruling under UNCLOS in the case between China and the Philippines.  All of that was indeed a theme of the discussions that did just conclude, and they have also been a theme of discussion that Secretary Pompeo, as you asked in your second question, has been having with Indonesian counterparts.

He, of course, recently traveled just a few weeks ago to Jakarta and had very productive meetings.  We have Indonesian visitors back and forth to Washington who continue to have very productive meetings.  And we discussed, certainly, maritime domain awareness issues.  We discussed matters of defense modernization, matters of Coast Guard and maritime law enforcement work.  We discussed the South China Sea, the Natuna issues in particular, and these are certainly areas of shared concern and areas where, as with some of the particular concerns around things like IUU fishing, but also very important matters of oil and gas exploration that are in play in the South China Sea – these are very clear matters where the Exclusive Economic Zones of other countries have economic resources that belong to those countries, and they don’t belong to Beijing in this case simply because Beijing asserts it, and wants to bully their way to control.

And so, coming up with arrangements so that this is respected in the region and that all of the countries can derive benefit from their own resources and their own patrimony is a very important goal and it is visible in all of our diplomatic consultations.  Thank you.

Moderator:  Thank you.  Next if we could go to Ao Bin Chong from 8TV News in Malaysia.  Ao Bin, if you could please go ahead.

Question:  Hi, Deputy Assistant Secretary.  Can you hear me?

Moderator:  Yes, please go ahead.

Question:  I have two questions for you, Deputy Assistant Secretary.  First, some of the IUU fishing happens in Southeast Asia – it happens in waters with overlapping sovereignty claims or disputed waters.  So how do you at present, could you help to address this issue?  That’s my first question.

The second question: I’m wondering if you can comment a bit on the recent signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership?  So, we can see that ASEAN countries are forging closer ties with China.  Is the U.S. losing out to China on ASEAN, and how will you react towards them?  Thank you.

DAS Feith:  Thanks for that.  On the question about overlapping sovereignty claims, it raises some of the issues that came up in the last question, where certainly there’s a close relationship between some of the IUU concerns and the kind of IUU problematic activity and the broader problems of coercion and bullying and disrespect for international law that we see in Beijing’s assertions of baseless maritime claims.

But also, as a general matter, enhancing maritime domain awareness is very important to the IUU fishing problem in general, especially where there is disputed claims.  Having a practice of peaceful, rules-based resolution of disputes is also important.  There are many overlapping claims in the region, including, of course, disputes that are not between China and its neighbors, but between other Southeast Asian countries.  But of course, in some of those other cases, we’ve seen – we’ve seen negotiated settlements, we’ve seen arbitration work successfully and peacefully, without bullying and coercion, when decisions are handed down and they are respected by both of the parties.  All of those sorts of practices are conducive to disentangling some of these claims, and to helping all of the countries work on their own and together against very serious concerns that are both country-by-country and are shared, as with IUU fishing.

And then on the matter of RCEP, I would just say that I think our purpose here is to discuss the IUU fishing matter.  We obviously take a great interest in our economic relationship with Southeast Asia and with the broader Indo-Pacific region, but I’ll leave the discussion of trade matters to another time.  Thank you.

Moderator:  We have just a little bit of time left for this teleconference, but let me ask a question that we received in advance.  We received a question from Mike Foley who writes for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in Canberra, Australia.  He asked, “Given the links between declining fish stocks and illegal fishing as well as piracy, does the U.S. plan to respond to the problem by including a focus on aquaculture or other measures to boost the wild harvest?”

Mr. Hogan:  Thanks very much.  The issue of the role that aquaculture plays is a very important one.  Aquaculture is certainly a significant component of the overall fisheries production of many of the countries in Southeast Asia, and certainly around the world.  In some cases, aquaculture production has eclipsed capture fisheries for certain species.  I think this is in part a reflection of the need for continuing economic development around the world, but I think it also is a tacit recognition that instability in fish stocks, which can be exacerbated and made much worse by IUU fishing, means that where fish stocks are unsustainable, they may no longer be reliable in the long term the way they once were, and that aquaculture can play a role both in terms of food security and economic security.

I think the approach of the United States is to look at this as a comprehensive problem.  While we need to adapt to new, better, and more efficient ways of producing protein for the world’s nutrition needs, we also need to continue to be vigilant and to promote sound fisheries science-based management and fisheries governance.  And the fisheries governance part is where we approach this issue of IUU fishing.

There are trade-offs with aquaculture in terms of land use and water use and coastal development, and we shouldn’t be forced into the development of aquaculture simply because IUU fishing is contributing to the decline of fish stocks.  It should be an approach that is complementary to capture fisheries, and the capture fisheries should remain sustainable for everyone, every participant, whether they’re coastal states, distant-water fishing states, and everyone participating in the value chain.

When we see aquaculture as a last resort to the collapse of capture fisheries that are contributed to by IUU fishing, we see that as a failure of the international community.  And I think that’s why we are prioritizing combating IUU fishing – so that we can have sustainable capture fisheries and sustainable aquaculture without the pressure to continue to produce in the absence of viable fish stocks.  That, for us, is the ideal scenario and why it’s so important for the international community to act in combating IUU fishing.  Thank you.

Moderator:  We probably have time for just one or two more.  I’ll try to get to them quickly.  The first question we also received in advance, from Vu-Anh Le from VnExpress in Vietnam — the question is: “The U.S. Coast Guard released a report on IUU fishing in August which signaled the U.S. intent to increase operations against China’s distant-water fishing fleet and called for likeminded nations to unite against predatory states at sea.  Can you comment on this, and will there be any joint efforts between the U.S. and Indo-Pacific nations to tackle IUU fishing and predatory behavior?”

DAS Feith:  Sure.  There certainly are many efforts that relate to the strategy that the Coast Guard recently rolled out, and of course some of these activities long predate the strategy, and many are of course being additionally emphasized in light of the strategy.  In the Pacific Islands, for example, our Coast Guard regularly offers shiprider exchanges in which partner nations can conduct counter-IUU operations from the decks of U.S. vessels.  We have our Port State Measures Agreement capacity development programs, which Dave Hogan mentioned earlier, which help workers and officials in countries anywhere in the region to detect and prevent IUU fishing products from entering port.  We have all sorts of programs between our State Department and our Defense Department with counterpart countries to build maritime security capacity, and also that’s on the military side as well as on the civilian law enforcement side.  So, there is a very wide mix of activities by our Coast Guard and by other parts of our military and of our government generally that are focused on these issues all across the Indo-Pacific region certainly.  And why don’t I ask Dave Hogan to add on that, if he’d like.

Mr. Hogan:  Thanks very much, DAS Feith.  I think it’s important for everyone to focus on the Coast Guard’s strategic outlook.  I think that there is a lot of information in there with regards to how the United States – the Coast Guard being one of our very close partners in working on combating IUU fishing –  how the United States views IUU fishing as a threat.  Maybe now one of the highest maritime security threats, relative to the economic value of the fisheries that are at risk.

The United States has been participating in outreach and cooperation to develop fisheries enforcement and fisheries monitoring capacity all around the world, including in Southeast Asia, as DAS Feith has discussed.  So, I think we are going to be maintaining and strengthening our interest in working with any partners in Southeast Asia, ideally working with the countries in the region as a group, so that we can foster cooperation between and among them.  That’s how we’ve done some of the fisheries enforcement training in Southeast Asia and some of the maritime security training as well.

But it is critically important for all the countries to understand that fisheries is not separate from maritime security.  It needs to be viewed as an integral part of their maritime security approach, and that’s why we have been fostering cooperation to combat IUU fishing across both the civilian and the national security communities of all the countries that wish to partner with the United States, so that they can use the resources that are available and protect their fisheries and their communities.  Thank you.

Moderator:  Excellent, thank you.  Let’s take one last question and then we’ll wrap up the call.  If we can go back to Colum Murphy from Bloomberg in Beijing.  Colum, if you could please go ahead.

Question:  Yes, thank you so much.  I just wanted to go back to an element of my earlier question, and basically let me rephrase it this way:  if China doesn’t change its behavior in regard to illegal fishing, what kinds of actions will the United States take against China?  Thank you.

DAS Feith:  Thanks for that.  Well, I won’t speculate on possible future actions, but certainly I think we can say that the U.S. Government has demonstrated a willingness to recognize problematic Chinese Government activity in a very wide realm – a very wide range of areas, and to then match that recognition with policies that seek to impose costs on behavior that for far too long went forward with impunity, damaging the interests of the United States, of Americans, of our friends, and of populations and countries all across Asia and elsewhere, and I think we’ve done that in a range of ways.

We’ve done it through sanctions at various times.  We’ve done it through other measures in the economic space, in law enforcement.  Certainly in diplomacy, we do these things in consultation with our allies and partners.  We encourage our allies and partners to work with us and to also work on their own in recognizing these problems and thinking through how likeminded countries can try to defend our interests, and try to defend common interests, and can try to push back against the problematic behavior that we see from Beijing, whether in – as in this case – in IUU fishing or in other aspects of coercion against neighbors, or environmental destruction, or other areas.

And so, I think that that logic and record would also apply in the IUU fishing space.  There are major abuses here, as we’ve discussed, that affect the economic interests of other countries, that affect the respect for international law, and the laws of China’s neighbors.  These implicate all sorts of basic questions of economic interaction and of diplomacy and law enforcement, and so I think we would look to a potentially wide range of tools to try to highlight this malign behavior and to demonstrate to Beijing that it shouldn’t continue.  But I wouldn’t speculate beyond that, and I’d leave it there.  Thank you.

Moderator:  Thank you very much.  That will conclude today’s call.  I want to thank David Feith, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Regional and Security Policy and Multilateral Affairs in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs; and also David Hogan, who’s the Acting Director, Office of Marine Conservation, in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.  And I’d also like to thank all of you participating in this briefing, and I apologize if we were not able to get to your question.  Please stay on the line for information regarding access to an audio recording of the call, and also, please be aware that a transcript of the call will be posted to our social media platforms and sent out to all of you within a day.  If you have any questions about today’s call, you may contact the Asia-Pacific Media Hub at AsiaPacMedia@state.gov.  Thank you very much.

U.S. Department of State

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