NZ, Fiji agencies begin fishing monitoring work in Pacific

The offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Wellington arrives in Suva ahead of fisheries and maritime security patrols in support of the Forum Fisheries Agency. (Photo: NZDF)

The Royal New Zealand Navy offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Wellington has departed Fiji to begin monitoring operations for illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing for the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) in the Pacific.

With a crew of 60, four Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) fishery officers, and a Fijian fishery officer embarked, the ship and a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3K-2 Orion aircraft will support Operation Island Chief.  New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) officials expect two Vanuatu fishery officers will also join the operation.

Commanding officer Lieutenant Commander Philip Davies said that monitoring fishing, and maritime security operations in the South West Pacific, were two of the key roles for the navy’s OPVs and the air force’s maritime patrol aircraft.

“We undertake these operations regularly throughout the year, for the FFA, MPI and at the direct request of Pacific nations,” said Lieutenant Commander Davies. “It’s an important job that ensures vessels in the exclusive economic zones and international waters are following best practice fishing methods and helps to maintain sustainable fish stocks.”

MPI Director of Compliance Services, Gary Orr, said that the collaboration with the NZDF gave Fishery Officers the reach to patrol a vast area.

“Our team will be boarding and inspecting fishing vessels to ensure they are following all regulations designed to support sustainable fisheries management,” said Mr Orr. “A key focus will be inspecting catch records and fish holds for potential offending as well as ensuring they’re using the correct seabird mitigation equipment.”

Operation Island Chief is one mission in a range of support activities currently being conducted by the NZDF in partnership with Pacific Island countries under Operation Mahi Tahi, until October this year.


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