The New Zealand Navy will not be boarding suspicious fishing vessels in the Pacific due to the risk of Covid-19.
The offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Otago departed Auckland last week and is currently patrolling Fiji's exclusive economic zone, targeting suspicious fishing activity, particularly related to yellowfin tuna.
Commodore Mathew (Mat) Williams said with Covid-19 prevention measures front of mind, the ship's crew will not be boarding foreign fishing vessels but will be hailing them and providing information to Fijian authorities.
The diesel-powered Otago refuelled in Suva on Thursday without physical interaction between port authorities personnel and the ship's 80 crew members.
Their patrol will continue until the end of July.
Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said the operating environment had changed with international Covid-19 restrictions resulting in reduced patrols in recent months.
The ship has a SH-2G(I) Seasprite helicopter on board to provide aerial surveillance over areas and vessels of interest, while crew on a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft recently re-started patrols in the region as part of the fisheries protection operation.