The Royal New Zealand Navy offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Otago is on its way to Samoa and other Pacific countries to conduct fisheries patrols and port visits over the next two months.
Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said the ship will be carrying out the patrols to help detect and deter illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activity on behalf of several Pacific Islands countries.
Port visits to Samoa, Fiji, Tuvalu and Tonga are scheduled, as part of defence diplomacy activities.
“We have been supporting fisheries management in the south west Pacific by deploying our ships and aircraft to conduct these annual patrols. Vessels fishing for tuna will be the focus of our inspections,” Major General Gall said.
The operation is sponsored by New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the ship will carry fisheries officers from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Pacific Islands countries.
Major General Gall said a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft will conduct surveillance sorties in support of Otago’s maritime patrols.
“We contribute to maritime surveillance in the region as New Zealand is a member of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency,” M.P.I compliance manager Gary Orr said.
“Overfishing of tuna stocks affects Pacific Islands countries. By conducting these patrols, we help progress the Pacific-wide campaign to educate and improve compliance with existing laws and regulations.”