Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel have completed Operation Solania—a two-week maritime and aerial surveillance operation supporting the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Operation Island Chief. Operation Island Chief is one of four FFA maritime surveillance operations held annually to detect, deter, report and/or apprehend potential illegal, unregulated or unreported (IUU) fishing activity and vessels. Operation Solania is the ADF’s contribution to these maritime surveillance operations and support to Operation Island Chief.
Commander of the Australian Army’s 1st Division / Deployable Joint Force Headquarters, Major General Jake Ellwood said Operation Island Chief has been an outstanding success which has assisted our partners in securing and protecting fisheries and economic resources across the region. “The ADF is proud to work with the FFA and with our Pacific partners to promote our collective maritime security. By combining our efforts, we can ensure our maritime environment and the Pacific Ocean is protected now and into the future,” Ellwood said. “The Pacific is our home. Australia shares a strong and enduring security partnership with our Pacific partners, and we remain committed to working with them to maintain a secure and prosperous region.”
The ADF’s contribution to Operation Island Chief included the Royal Australian Navy’s Armidale-class patrol HMAS Glenelg and the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) C-27J Spartan. At the request of the Government of Vanuatu, HMAS Glenelg provided maritime surveillance support in Vanuatu as the Vanuatu Police Force transitions to its new, more capable Guardian-class Patrol Boat, RVS Takuare. Working with Fijian Guardian Class Patrol Boat RFNS Savenaca, HMAS Glenelg also conducted a joint exercise in the high seas and Fiji’s Economic Exclusive Zone.
Commanding Officer of HMAS Glenelg, Lieutenant Commander Alexander Finnis said that joint aerial and maritime surveillance efforts resulted in the detection of unauthorised fishing activities throughout the region and provided a credible deterrent against future illegal incursions. “Throughout the operation we worked closely with the FFA and Pacific Island countries to protect the economic and resource security of our region,” Finnis said.
Operation Solania is conducted under the Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement framework, which was established in July 1992 to enable cooperation in fisheries surveillance and law enforcement amongst FFA member nations.