The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has again partnered with Pacific island nations to tackle illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activity in the Southwest Pacific during the latest mission conducted under Operation SOLANIA.
Supporting the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Operation ISLAND CHIEF, the ADF worked with Vanuatu and Kiribati to monitor their exclusive economic zones (EEZ). Royal Australian Air Force air assets included a C-27J Spartan, operating out of Port Vila and a KA350 King Air operating out of Tarawa, at the request of the Government of Kiribati. The KA350 King Air crew flew 10 missions for the FFA, detecting and reporting more than 15 suspicious vessels and helping locate 10 vessels of interest. Additionally, the C-27J Spartan crew flew 11 missions over Vanuatu’s EEZ, reporting more than 50 vessels to the FFA.
Commander of ADF Operations in the Southwest Pacific, Major General Scott Winter, said the ADF’s contribution supported a wider, multi-national program to provide maritime surveillance within the Pacific. “Australia is committed to helping our Pacific family protect their fisheries resources, support regional security and counter transnational crime,” Winter said. “Supporting operations like ISLAND CHIEF allows us to work with the FFA, our Pacific partners, and members of the Pacific Quadrilateral Defence Coordination Group (Australia, the United States, New Zealand, and France) to ensure the economic security and prosperity of the Pacific through the protection of its critical maritime industries and ecosystems. We are at our best when we face these challenges together – as partners, and as a region.”
An ADF Air Liaison Officer alongside geospatial and intelligence specialists were also deployed to assist the FFA alongside members of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, Solomon Islands Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Fijian Navy and United States Coast Guard.