A new era in Pacific Maritime Surveillance

YAREN, 06 SEPTEMBER 2018 (FFA/COOK ISLANDS GOVT) – Pacific Forum Leaders have welcomed the increased air surveillance capacity of the new Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) Aerial Surveillance Programme funded by Australia under the Pacific Maritime Security Programme (PMSP).

In a special event hosted at the Nauru International Airport, Leaders were able to inspect one of two King Air200 aircraft, fitted with high tech sensor, avionics and communications technologies capable of detecting fishing vessels over a broad range of ocean.

“The Aerial Surveillance ensures we have more Pacific eyes in the sky on fisheries activity across the exclusive economic zones of our Pacific member nations,” says FFA Director General James Movick. “Today is an exciting milestone for fisheries surveillance, as well as broader law enforcement supporting the protection of our oceanic resources for the benefit of our people.”

Chair of the Forum Fisheries Committee, Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna, in launching the programme, commended the efforts of those involved in bringing the initiative to fruition, heralding “a new era in Pacific maritime security capability.”

“On behalf of Leaders, I acknowledge with gratitude Australia’s 30-year support towards our region’s maritime surveillance capacity, initially through the Pacific Patrol Boat program and now this added capability of aerial surveillance. This programme has given regional governments the confidence to add the services of civilian contractors to our on-going support from the QUADS (defence assets of Australia, France, New Zealand and the United States).”

The planes will be placed under the operational control of the FFA, and provide air surveillance service to FFA member countries, based on regional risk assessments and responding to nationally-determined air surveillance tasking.

Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Marise Payne noted the PMSP as being a major part of Australia’s defence cooperation work in the Pacific and a commitment of Australia’s support to the Pacific region over the next 30 years.

“I would encourage Pacific Leaders to take the opportunity of being Local Air Observers when the King Air is in your country and witness how the aircraft working with your Pacific Patrol Boat can enhance maritime domain awareness. The aerial surveillance will be provided to 15 FFA members in a phased approach with an initial focus on detecting and responding to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing threats, but can also be used for broader maritime security threats,” she said.

Forum Fisheries Ministers as well as Forum Leaders thanked outgoing FFA Director General James Movick, who completes his tenure in a few months, for “upholding the legacy of excellence in strength through cooperation against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in our waters, and for keeping the work of many years on track to enhance Pacific maritime domain awareness.”

The King Air aircraft has been taking part in ‘Operation Frigate Bird’ – a fisheries surveillance operation taking place in Nauru waters this week. Nauru has partnered with Kiribati to bring the Kiribati patrol boat Teanoai to Nauru, with the new Aerial Surveillance plane supporting the sea-surface patrol.

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