When you join the U.S. Coast Guard, you’re not just protecting our coastlines and borders, you’re protecting valuable natural marine resources as well as private and commercial waterways.
The marine environment of the United States is one of the most valuable natural resources on Earth. It contains one-fifth of the world’s fishery resources. It is our duty to enforce the laws intended to preserve healthy stocks of fish and other living marine resources.
We protect our waters from the discharge of oil, hazardous substances and non-indigenous invasive species. Our National Strike Teams are on call 24-7. In 2008, we performed nearly 17,000 facility safety inspections and investigated nearly 4,000 pollution incidents.
We also safeguard sensitive marine habitats, mammals, and endangered species for the common good. We have units that help free endangered northern right whales entangled in fishing gear and remove tons of marine debris from the coral-reef habitats.
But while the health of our Nation’s waters and marine resources is vital to the environment, our waterways are also an economic highway essential to trade and recreation.
Keeping boat traffic, both private and commercial, moving safely and securely—through everything from congested harbors to ice-laden waters—is our responsibility. We are the nation's lead agency for waterways management, port safety and security, and vessel-safety inspection and certification.
In addition, we also maintain the "signposts" and "traffic signals" that make up the more than 50,000 federal aids to navigation, including buoys, lighthouses, day beacons, and radio-navigation signals.
Finally, we operate the Nation’s only Polar icebreakers. This enables us to support the research requirements of the National Science Foundation as well as to protect our national interests in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.