The Australian Government funded 25 hours of maritime air surveillance this month in Vanuatu’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The project was funded through Australia’s Defence Cooperation Program (DCP) and aimed to investigate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing to protect Vanuatu’s valuable maritime resources.
Assistant Commissioner Tari Tamata, Commander Vanuatu Police Maritime Wing, Lieutenant Commander Bobby Lewis, Royal Australian Navy Maritime Surveillance Advisor, and Chief Petty Officer Greg Stephenson, Royal Australian Navy Technical Advisor, with the Central Pacific Special Air Service’s team on Thursday 19 February 2015
The surveillance was performed by the Central Pacific Special Air Service through Samoa Air. Based out of Bauerfield Airport in Port Vila, the Samoa Air Cessna 337 conducted five patrols between 10 and 19 February 2015.
“Air surveillance provides a visible presence in the EEZ to ensure IUU fishing does not go undetected, and ultimately that protects Vanuatu’s natural resources and maritime security,” said Lieutenant Commander Robert Lewis, Royal Australian Navy Maritime Surveillance Advisor to Vanuatu’s Police Maritime Wing (PMW).
The information gathered by the aircraft was reported back to the PMW surveillance centre. This information will be assessed in conjunction with information available through the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA). If illegal activity is detected, Vanuatu’s patrol boat RVS Tukoro is able to respond. Tukoro was gifted to Vanuatu by the Australian Government in 1987 and in 2013 underwent a 760 million vatu refit. With the support of the Australian Government, it regularly conducts surface patrols in Vanuatu’s EEZ.
“I am grateful to the Australian Government for the assistance provided through the DCP. Air surveillance and the surface patrols conducted by Tukoro are vital to the maritime security of Vanuatu,” said Assistant Commissioner Tari Tamata, Commander of the PMW.
The Australia Government has funded 348 hours of maritime air surveillance in Vanuatu and across the Pacific, including in Cook Islands, Samoa, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands.