NATION

Vessels Investigated For Suspicious Activity

Three vessels were conducting suspicious activity within Fiji’s exclusive economic zone, says Fiji Navy Commander Captain John Fox. Captain Fox said the Fiji Navy were awaiting verification on the details
06 Jul 2016 09:23
Vessels Investigated For Suspicious Activity

Three vessels were conducting suspicious activity within Fiji’s exclusive economic zone, says Fiji Navy Commander Captain John Fox.

Captain Fox said the Fiji Navy were awaiting verification on the details of the vessels from the Ministry of Fisheries.

This comes after a 10-day exercise co-ordinated by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) from June 15 to 24. Patrols were conducted by the Royal New Zealand Navy offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Otago, the FNS Kiro (with 23 personnel)  and the Task Force Seven Two (CTF-72), the maritime patrol and reconnaissance aviation component of US Seventh Fleet.

Captain Fox said 18 boardings were made within Fiji’s EEZ and in the high seas pockets between Fiji and Vanuatu.

The boardings of the vessels were to verify whether all papers were in order, he said.

Public Affairs officer in the US Navy, Lieutenant Christi Morrissey said: “All patrolling units were involved in a search for persons and vessels engaged in illegal unregulated unreported activities (IUU).

“Vessels at sea were identified and compared to known or permitted activities. Those falling outside the knowledge of the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and its affiliates were apprehended and, in some cases, will be prosecuted for IUU activities.”

With increasing need for air surveillance in the region, the US Navy’s Commander, Task Force Seven Two (CTF-72) aircraft join in FFA activities two to four times a year.In the June exercise they were assigned to waters around Guam and Fiji to assist in patrolling one of the seven EEZs.

Lieutenant Morrissey confirmed that the recent operation was the first visit of the P-8A’s Poisedon. He also labelled the exercise as successful.

“By helping to enforce fishery policies, we assisted in the conservation, management, and development of sustainable fishery resources, a key to many people’s livelihoods in the Pacific,” he said.

“Additionally, our crews were able to practice co-ordinated operations and integration with multiple countries, strengthening our partnerships with nations in the region.”

Lieutenant Commander (LTCDR) Andrew Sorensen, the Commanding Officer of HMNZS Otago said that they have made an excellent start with the Pacific patrols and have been kept busy monitoring fishing activity, checking for compliance, and reporting back to the Forum Fisheries Agency.

“There were some breaches but on the whole, all vessels were compliant and allowed us to board.”

 

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