The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has conducted 17 missions and patrolled 686,000 square kilometres in an operation to combat illegal fishing in the Pacific. As part of the third iteration of Operation Solania this year, the ADF provided important maritime surveillance support to the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Operation Island Chief 2023.
The mission to detect and deter illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing in the region saw the ADF working alongside Pacific partners to protect Vanuatu, Tuvalu and Kiribati’s fishing industries and economies.
A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) KA350 King Air flew 10 missions for the FFA out of Tuvalu and Kiribati, detecting and reporting more than 33 vessels of interest and covering over 590,000 square kilometres. A RAAF C-27J Spartan flew seven missions covering 94,000 square kilometres of Vanuatu’s exclusive economic zone, reporting more than 21 vessels to the FFA.
Commander of ADF forces assigned to Operation Solania, Major General Scott Winter, said the ADF is committed to working with Pacific partners to enhance regional maritime security. “Our longstanding relationships and shared history, culture and values enable Australia and Pacific partners to work effectively and quickly to support shared priorities,” Major General Winter said. “Australia and the ADF are steadfast in our commitment to our Pacific partners, as we understand the enormous threats illegal fishing and transnational crime have on the region’s fishing industry and economies.”
The ADF joined aircraft from the United States Coast Guard, Royal New Zealand Air Force, France and the Pacific Maritime Security Program as well as surface vessels from the United States Coast Guard to support the FFA during Operation Island Chief. The ADF also provides permanent staffing resources to the FFA’s Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre in the Solomon Islands to ensure continuous support.