Nafanua II part of broader operation

The Commissioner of Police, Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil, says Nafanua II is just one part of an ongoing security operation within Pacific waters seeking to detect and deter criminal activity. 

“It’s not just the Nafanua II that’s out [on the water] right now. They are part of the annual maritime joint operation,” he said in response to questions from the Samoa Observer.

His comments were sought following news reports out of American Samoa that the U.S. Coast Guard 14th District and the Law Enforcement Agency of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (N.O.A.A.) had boarded a local fishing vessel, the Princess Karlinna II with marine patrol vessels from Samoa, the Cook Islands and Tokelau.

According to Talaneinews a fishing vessel has been recorded by N.O.A.A.’s Vessel Monitoring System well within American Samoa’s Exclusive Economic Zone when it was boarded. It was spotted about 180 miles northeast of Tutuila.

Carlos Sanchez of Longline Services Inc., which owns the fishing vessel, said his crew contacted him about the incident.

However the Commissioner of Police said the Nafanua II was part of a  joint operation. 

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“The Nafanua II is included in a joint operation and these are classified information.” 

He said these operations aim to protect borders interdict  illegal  human trafficking.

“These are issues that are discussed during the Pacific Islands Forum,” said the Commissioner. 

In February, 2019 Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi and the  Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency Director General, Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen signed a Memorandum of Understanding formalising Samoa’s support for the F.F.A.’s Regional Aerial Surveillance Program.

The Regional Aerial Surveillance initiative is funded by Australia as part of the Pacific Maritime Security Program to enhance the surveillance capacity of Pacific Island countries to deter, detect and respond to illegal or security-related activities occurring in their Exclusive Economic Zones.

“Under the MoU, Samoa will host one and Vanuatu the other, of two King Air200 aircrafts fitted with high-tech sensors, avionics and communications technologies, capable of detecting fishing vessels over a wide area of ocean. 

Dr. Tupou-Roosen said the MoU with Samoa was another significant step forward.

Tuilaepa stated at the time the surveillance programme, in conjunction with the Pacific Patrol Boat program, will provide targeted maritime patrolling and enhance the ability of Pacific island countries to defend against regional maritime security threats such as illegal fishing and transnational crime. 

The highly anticipated $30 million guardian-class boat docked in Matautu wharf on Friday morning after a long journey home from Australia. 

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