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NZDF, MPI and Fiji agencies begin fishing monitoring work in Pacific

Royal New Zealand Navy Offshore Patrol Vessel HMNZS Wellington has departed Fiji to begin illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing monitoring operations for the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) in the Pacific.

17 August, 2022

With a crew of 60 personnel, four Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Fishery Officers and a Fijian Fishery Officer embarked, the ship and a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3K-2 Orion aircraft will support Operation Island Chief.  Two Vanuatu Fishery Officers are also expected to join the operation. 

Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Philip Davies said that monitoring fishing and maritime security operations in the South West Pacific were two of the key roles for the Navy’s Offshore Patrol Vessels and the Air Force’s maritime patrol aircraft.

“We undertake these operations regularly throughout the year, for the FFA, MPI and at the direct request of Pacific nations.  It’s an important job that ensures vessels in the exclusive economic zones and on the high seas are following best practice fishing methods and helps to maintain sustainable fish stocks.” 

Fishery Officers from Fiji and New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries prepare to embark HMNZS Wellington

HMNZS Wellington arrives in Suva ahead of fisheries and maritime security patrols in support of the Forum Fisheries Agency

Offshore Patrol Vessel HMNZS Wellington is designed for maritime surveillance and patrol missions in the Pacific and Southern Ocean

MPI Director of Compliance Services Gary Orr said that the collaboration with the NZDF gave Fishery Officers the reach to patrol a vast area. 

“Our team will be boarding and inspecting fishing vessels to ensure they are following all regulations designed to support sustainable fisheries management,” he said. 

“A key focus will be inspecting catch records and fish holds for potential offending as well as ensuring they’re using the correct seabird mitigation equipment. 

“We’ll also be working alongside Fishery Officers from a number of Pacific Island countries when we patrol their waters so that we can share best practice in fisheries compliance and build both our capabilities and those of our Pacific neighbours.”

Operation Island Chief is one mission in a range of support activities currently being conducted by the New Zealand Defence Force in partnership with Pacific Island countries under Operation Mahi Tahi, until October this year.