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Fiji Navy Needs Neighbours To Monitor Illegal Activities: Vosawale

Fiji Navy Needs Neighbours To Monitor Illegal Activities: Vosawale
Fiji Navy support commander Marika Vosawale
May 30
11:05 2018

The Fiji Navy continues to closely monitor vessels and yachts for illegal fishing, hu­man and drug trafficking inside the Fiji’s economic exclusive zone.

Fiji has an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) covering an area of around 1,290,000 square kilometres, while having a land area of around 18,333 kilometres.

Navy is the maritime law enforce­ment arm of the nation and is re­sponsible for maritime surveillance and patrolling of Fiji’s waters in col­laboration with the maritime relat­ed ministries and national agencies including Fisheries.

Support commander Marika Vosawale told the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence that laxity in law enforce­ment, limited inspection capacity at sea are loopholes to unethical fish­ing, human and drug trafficking in the Fiji waters.

“Challenges involved would en­compass legislations gaps for Fiji Navy to functional effectively at sea,” Commander Vosawale said.

“Our enforcement empowerment at sea is delegated to Fiji navy offic­ers by authority by respective mari­time related legislation or minis­tries through annual Government gazette,” he said.

“We need a collective legislation in a form of a “Maritime Enforcement Powers” legislation which address­es fisheries, customs, environment, sea safety, biosecurity, policing and maritime crime at sea.”

Currently Fiji Navy’s empower­ment at sea according to legislation can be a disadvantage if a case is fronted in court for prosecution.

“Secondly, improved and en­hanced surveillance capability plat­forms, technology, infrastructure and human resource given our vast sea area of responsibility mentioned in our opening remarks,” he said.

“Thirdly the need for improved and enhanced collaborative part­nership amongst Government and stakeholder agencies in information sharing through integrated-intelli­gence arrangement,” he said.

He said they did not have the re­sources and funds to monitor the economic exclusive zone daily.

“We cannot monitor the economic exclusive zone 24/7 that is why we rely on our Pacific neighbouring countries to share information on illicit activities within our zone.”

He said patrol boats were utilised to patrol the waters to detect, deter and investigate vessel of interests and if need be, apprehend vessels that did not adhere to Fiji’s Fisheries laws.

“Through the Fiji Navy maritime surveillance centre, satellite based information through the automatic identification system, voyage man­agement system and intelligence information is utilised to monitor fishing vessels entering Fiji waters and analysis is conducted on vessel movements and whether there is any suspicion of illegal activities.”

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