The Australian Defence Force has completed Operation Solania, a mission to support co-ordinated regional maritime surveillance and patrol operations.
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A Royal Australian Air Force C-27J Spartan aircraft has provided aerial surveillance support as part of Operation Solania — an ongoing mission to support the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) efforts to detect illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the south-west Pacific.
The operation, led from the FFA Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre in Honiara, Solomon Islands, aims to detect maritime threats that could lead to law enforcement action and criminal prosecution.
Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Greg Bilton, said Australia’s continued presence in the south-west Pacific and contribution to the operation has demonstrated Defence’s commitment to the region amid growing uncertainty.
“The ADF remains committed to supporting the needs of Pacific island nations,” LTGEN 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.”
Defence has committed to continuing to work alongside south-west Pacific partners to ensure their maritime-based economies are protected from exploitation by IUU fishing.
Operation Solania forms part of the aerial surveillance component of the Australian government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program, which aims to provide contracted aircraft for the FFA to use up to 365 days a year across 15 Pacific island nations.
[Related: Exercise Malabar kicks off in Indo-Pacific ]