Vanuatu was part of a 10-day annual operation to detect, deter, report and/or apprehend potential Illegal, Unregulated or Unreported (IUU) fishing activity which ended on August 3.
Operation Island Chief involved ten FFA member nations- Fiji, FSM, Kiribati, Palau, PNG, Nauru, the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu, and the Quadrilateral Defence Coordination Group (QUADs) – Australia, New Zealand, France and the United States.
Regional surveillance operations such as Operation Island Chief involve hundreds of personnel from across the region, with joint coordination led by the FFA’s Regional Fisheries and Surveillance Centre (RFSC) team.
Fisheries, Police Maritime Units and Navy officers of FFA members participated as watch-keepers joining the RFSC team for around the clock shifts during the Operation, with their primary task being to monitor and analyse the Regional Surveillance picture and all incoming data from the QUAD surveillance providers.
Operation Island Chief 2018 (OPIC18) covered more than 16.5 million square kilometres of ocean and found no infringements or breaches.
Chief of Staff – Petty Officer Waisake Tikoduadua from Fiji said “As Chief of Staff for OPIC18 first, I have to know watch keepers very well and make sure that they are well organized in their watch and shift. Also, to ensure daily briefs are prepared during the operation. I thank everyone for the great team work for OPIC18 and I am looking forward to work with FFA in future operations.”
OPIC18 is the third of four Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) led monitoring, control and surveillance operations each year. It involved patrol boats from Fiji, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands, as well as aircrafts from Australia and the United States, who offered their defence and military assets to support regional surveillance. A total of approximately 50 days at sea and 110 hours of air time was undertaken during OPIC18.
“As always, we are thankful for the level of cooperation, commitment and engagement by our members and QUAD partners in safeguarding the Pacific fishery from Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported activity,” said FFA Director General, James Movick.