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About 160 vessels inspected during NZ-Fiji patrols

September 21, 2018 10:38 pm

About 160 vessels in Fijian waters were inspected during combined maritime surveillance patrols by New Zealand and Fiji agencies since June.

For the second consecutive year, the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) deployed Royal New Zealand Navy vessels to help Fiji patrol its Exclusive Economic Zone of more than 1.2 million square kilometres.

Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, Major General Tim Gall says the patrols have been another tremendous success, as a deterrent to potential illegal fishing.

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Gall says the assistance given is also aimed at policing borders to calm down on illegal fishing and helped protect the livelihoods of communities.

Fiji’s Director of Fisheries Aisake Batibasaga says the NZDF and MPI provided excellent support to Fiji authorities in enforcing their fisheries rules and regulations.

Batibasaga says this operation was beneficial for the management of important inshore fisheries resources, because the patrols coincided with the Government’s implementation of the ban on the harvest.

The first phase of this year’s patrols was conducted by inshore patrol vessel HMNZS Taupo, with offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Otago taking over in September.

Six fishery officers and two shore-based fisheries analysts from New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) supported at-sea boarding and inspection of target vessels.

Lieutenant Commander Lorna Gray, the Commanding Officer of Otago, said about 23,000 kilometres were covered and 1,160 hours were spent on patrol during the combined operation.

This also involved personnel from the Republic of Fiji Navy, Fiji’s Ministry of Fisheries, Revenue and Customs Service and MPI.

Thirty-one sailors from the Fiji Navy trained on Taupo and Otago, focussing on core mariner skills and increasing their knowledge within their chosen trades, she said.

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