9 Jul 2018

France assures New Caledonia over maritime surveillance

3:36 pm on 9 July 2018

The French military says it will give priority to New Caledonia when new patrol boats come into service in the next decade.

Two surveillance vessels will be phased out in two years but the defence establishment says there are sufficient means to protect the territorial waters of New Caledonia.

The issue was raised by a New Caledonian member of the French National Assembly Gerard Poadja who expressed concern that the 1.8 million square kilometres would lack adequate surveillance.

However, a senior defence ministry official said a frigate, a multi-purpose ship as well as aircraft will suffice for the two-year period after 2020 until the new vessels come into service.

In the past two years, more than 70 vessels have been found to be fishing illegally, in particular Vietnamese poachers of beche de mer.

In November, New Caledonia will vote on whether to attain full sovereignty.