Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Air Force deployment nets illegal fishing vessels

The latest deployment of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P-8A Poseidon to a multinational fisheries operation has identified 74 fishing vessels in a vast search area.

Of the 74 boats, three were identified as being of interest for potential breaches of fishing regulations and reported to the Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) as part of efforts to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

The two-week Operation Kurukuru focussed on the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and adjacent high seas pockets of the Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Tokelau, Tonga and Vanuatu – an area covering approximately 21.3 million square kilometres.

One of the vessels photographed by the RNZAF P-8A Poseidon and reported to the FFA for potential breaches of fishing regulations.

Air Component Commander, Air Commodore Andy Scott said he was pleased to see the effectiveness of the Poseidon being demonstrated in the Pacific.

“The FFA operations aim to safeguard the marine resources of Pacific Island nations and the Western Central Pacific Ocean. We have a long history of supporting the FFA with our P-3K2 Orion and now our P-8A aircraft.”

“With so many Pacific nations plus Australia, France, New Zealand and the United States working together to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, the chances of being caught breaching regulations are great,” he said.

The FFA-coordinated operation included 25 seconded officers to the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, United States, Niue and Vanuatu.  

The officers received training in order to improve capability to collate, analyse and filter data to assist national and regional surveillance efforts in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

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