27 Aug 2009

Biggest Pacific maritime surveillance operation finds less illegal fishing

5:26 pm on 27 August 2009

The Pacific's biggest annual hunt for illegal maritime activities has been hailed a success by the Forum Fisheries Agency.

The FFA ran this year's Operation Kurukuru, coordinated inter-country surveillance to detect activities such as illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, smuggling and people trafficking.

The 10-day operation covered an area of 10 million square kilometres in the Exclusive Economic Zones of the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The FFA says that of 191 vessels looked at, 21 were boarded, three were apprehended and a 10,000 US dollar fine was levied.

The agency's surveillance operations officer, Martin Campbell, says that's proof that year-round patrolling is working.

"We're not seeing that pattern that occurred in previous operations where there is a number vessels without licences fishing in Economic Exclusion Zones. And this year we also covered the High Seas as well which has not been done on previous occasions and that was to enforce the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission's new conservation measures particularly in those areas."

Martin Campbell of the Forum Fisheries Agency.