25 Oct 2014

Pacific maritime operation nabs 12 vessels

11:23 am on 25 October 2014

The Forum Fisheries Agency's Pacific region annual maritime surveillance sweep of Pacific fishing waters has netted a record 12 vessels in potential breach of their fishing licences.

The vessels, nabbed by Fisheries Maritime Police from the Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea and Palau are flagged to Thailand, the Philippines and FSM.

They were amongst 114 boardings of fishing vessels and 1,011 sightings of vessels across the exclusive economic zones of 14 Pacific nations involved in the Operation Kurukuru maritime surveillance exercise.

The regional sweep, launched on Wednesday last week, ended its tenth and final day yesterday.

FFA Director General, James Movick, says further details on the alleged infringements are an operational matter and will be dealt with at the national level.

But he thinks the findings demonstrate the level of standards and effectiveness which FFA partners are applying in the area of maritime surveillance.

He says through operations such as Kurukuru, Pacific nations as custodians of their oceanic resources are sending a message to anyone fishing without, or in breach of, their licences that their watching, their activity is being recorded, and they will be caught.

Kurukuru 2014 covered an area of approximately 30 million square kilometres - including the EEZs of Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Fisheries surveillance and enforcement staff from all of these countries worked together with their Quadrilateral Defence Cooperation counterparts from Australia, New Zealand, France and the United States over the two weeks of round the clock surveillance, data analysis, reporting and information sharing and, ultimately, enforcement operations.

Australia's Fisheries Management Authority, the Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources, and NZ's National Maritime Coordination Centre provided analysts to aid the operation in the Surveillance centre while Vanuatu ship-riders worked with patrol boats in Palau.

Ocean Watchers - FFA's operation Kurukuru 2014

Ocean Watchers - FFA's operation Kurukuru 2014 Photo: FFA