Largest marine surveillance initiative notches up many successes


<p style="text-align: justify;">A strong message of what the collective power of the Pacific Islands can do when they work in unison with a strong sense of purpose has been sent to the global illegal fishing industry this month.<!--more--></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The region’s single largest marine monitoring, control and surveillance operation ever resulted in the sighting of over 400 vessels, the boarding of 80 vessels and the apprehension of eight – five of which have been escorted to ports for further investigation. Several other vessels were issued citations and fines for fisheries infringements.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">During the initiative, termed Operation Kurukuru 2011, which was conducted between November 7 and 14, eight surveillance aircraft collectively flew more than 150 hours covering some 350,000 square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The effort was pan regional with global assistance: It involved fisheries and enforcement staff from all of the Forum Fisheries Agency member nations working together with their counterparts from Australia, France, New Zealand and the United States.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The geographical area covered included the exclusive economic zones of the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The operation resulted in boosting the confidence of policing authorities of particularly the small island states, with a Tuvalu patrol boat boarding, apprehending and fining a foreign fishing vessel and a Federated States of Micronesia patrol boat boarding and issuing citations to three foreign fishing vessels for a range of possible violations.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The co-operation between the islands also meant that their authorities were looking out for violators of the law across one another’s exclusive economic zones seamlessly, not limited by political borders.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This is the first ever time that a coordinated regional surveillance operation on such a scale with active participation from all 17 Pacific Island members of the FFA and all four Quadrilateral Defence countries has taken place.</p>
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