Pacific tuna IUU investigations launched
Operation Island Chief covered more than 14m square kilometres of ocean
Investigations into four serious breaches of vessel fishing licenses have begun after a surveillance sweep in the Pacific tuna fishery.
The ten-day operation involved nine Pacific patrol boats from 10 participating Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) member nations.
Operation Island Chief covered more than 14m square kilometres of ocean and of the four ‘QUAD’ nations who offer their defence and military assets to support regional surveillance, Australia, NZ and the US participated.
James Movick, director general of FFA, said: “The contribution of the QUAD partners in safeguarding the Pacific fishery from Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) activity brings a much-appreciated layer of support to the national patrols and vigilance led by maritime headquarters across the region, and we are heartened by the level of engagement, commitment, and action assisting developing Pacific nations in this regard.”
The HMNZS Otago and Hawea, supported by an RNZAF P-3K2 Orion aircraft, the HMAS Success, and two US aircraft played a key role in aerial and surface support to the operation. QUAD assets added to the Island Chief at-sea total of 75 days and the aerial assets providing 73 hours of surveillance.
A total of 1,989 vessel detections via radar were involved in the investigation. There was also a record of 117 at sea and in-port vessel boardings, and infringements involving four vessels — three flagged to China and one to Chinese Taipei.
The infringements, in Vanuatu and the High seas, centred around non-reporting or misreporting of critical information, and unmarked gear. All cases and investigations will be led by the national authorities.
10 FFA nations involved
The FFA member nations involved in Operation Island Chief included Fiji, FSM, Kiribati, Palau, PNG, Nauru, the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
Mr Movick added: “Regional cooperation and sharing of resources and information is a critical cornerstone of the strong Pacific vigilance against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing.
“The incorporation of newer technologies has seen the regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre hosted by FFA, adapt accordingly over recent years.”