The Australian Defence Force has finished its latest mission to help regional partners detect illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Southwest Pacific. A Royal Australian Air Force C-27J Spartan aircraft provided aerial surveillance as part of the ongoing Australian Operation SOLANIA, in support of the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) coordinated regional maritime surveillance and patrol operations.
Operation SOLANIA assists Pacific Island nations with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to support detection of maritime threats that could lead to law enforcement action and criminal prosecution. The operation was led from the FFA Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Greg Bilton said Australia’s continued presence in the Southwest Pacific and contribution to the prevention of IUU fishing highlighted Australia’s support for the region during an uncertain period. “The ADF remains committed to supporting the needs of Pacific Island nations,” Bilton said. “COVID-19 has placed greater pressure on the economies of our regional neighbours and it is up to all of us in the region to prevent the theft of oceanic resources. Defence has the capability and the capacity to assist our neighbours in supporting their economic prosperity and the security and stability of our region.”
Australia will continue to work alongside Southwest Pacific partners to ensure their maritime-based economies are protected from exploitation by IUU fishing. Operation SOLANIA complements the aerial surveillance component of the Australian Government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program, which provides contracted aircraft for the FFA to use up to 365 days a year across 15 Pacific Island nations.