The Royal New Zealand Navy’s HMNZS Wellington and a Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion aircraft have identified several vessels of interest during a maritime resource border protection operation currently underway in the Pacific.
The patrols are being coordinated with the nations of Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu, with the areas for survey also being covered by aerial surveillance involving the HMNZS Wellington’s embarked Seasprite helicopter from No. 6 Squadron, and the Orion from No. 5 Squadron of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).
New Zealand is one of 17 nations contributing to the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) efforts to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the region.
Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said the detection and deterrence of such fishing was a very important role for the New Zealand Defence Force.
“The rules that the FFA have in place are there for a reason, ensuring the fisheries are managed effectively for future generations. The New Zealand Defence Force has the capability to assist the FFA and our Pacific neighbours to maintain and uphold those rules.”
Ministry for Primary Industries National Manager Fisheries Compliance, Niamh Murphy, said New Zealand worked closely with partners in the Pacific on a range of initiatives to support sustainability in the region.
“These operations allow us to patrol vast areas of ocean and sends a strong message to those who want to fish illegally.”
Maritime Component Commander Commodore Garin Golding said the ship’s crew would not be boarding foreign fishing vessels but would be monitoring activity and providing information to the FFA and authorities.
“This operation will remain contactless, in order to ensure the safety of our crew and that of the Pacific nations we will be visiting for logistics stops.”
He said imagery obtained by the ship and aircraft will be provided to authorities for assessment.