The ADF partnered with the PNG Defence Force to conduct maritime surveillance to detect and deter illegal fishing in the Pacific.
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The Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Wollongong and the PNG Defence Force’s HMPNGS Rochus Lokinap recently conducted a two-week maritime surveillance exercise in PNG’s Exclusive Economic Zone to detect and deter illegal fishing in the region, Defence confirmed.
The mission forms part of Operation Solania, Australia’s contribution to maritime surveillance in the region, and aimed to support the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)’s Operations KuruKuru, Island Chief, Tui Moana and Rai Balang in order to deter illegal fishing.
According to Defence, the ADF also helped the FFA with intelligence gathering thus enhancing the surveillance capabilities of participants in Operation KuruKuru.
Operation KuruKuru is the agency’s largest annual surveillance operation, spanning an estimated 21.3 million square kilometres and encompassing the 15 Pacific island member states’ EEZs.
“Protecting fisheries is critical for the livelihoods, employment and economic prosperity of our Pacific neighbours, and we are proud to be working alongside the FFA, our Pacific Partners and members of the Quadrilateral Defence Coordination Group to help secure and protect this vital resource,” Commander of the ADF’s Deployable Joint Force Headquarters Major General Jake Ellwood said.
“Together we are tackling shared maritime security challenges, including transnational crime, border security and illegal fishing.
“Maritime security is important for all of us and we remain committed to working with our Pacific partners to maintain a secure, prosperous and stable region.”
Throughout the Operation, HMAS Wollongong patrolled PNG’s EEZ with two PNG defence members aboard the vessel.
“Having two senior sailors from the PNGDF embarked for our patrols has greatly enhanced Wollongong’s surveillance capability throughout this patrol,” Commanding Officer of HMAS Wollongong Lieutenant Commander Sean Dalton said.
“Their local knowledge assisted Wollongong in identifying behaviour that lies outside of normal patterns in the PNG Exclusive Economic Zone.
“Their experience here will be highly valuable in their training of the future crews of the PNGDF’s Guardian Class patrol boats.”
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