New Zealand Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Phil Heatley has acknowledged the crew of HMNZS Wellington with a presentation to mark the first ever high seas fisheries compliance operation involving the NZ Navy’s new offshore patrol vessels (OPVs).
Heatley says ‘Operation Zodiac’ was a superb example of how collaborative interagency work could protect New Zealand’s wider fisheries interests.
The operation took place in the most northern part of New Zealand’s EEZ and around the Kermadec Islands, following procedures approved by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), of which New Zealand is an active member.
Six Fishery Officers joined the crew of HMNZS Wellington to undertake the first ever high seas boarding and inspection of foreign flagged vessels by New Zealand. A total of 18 foreign flagged tuna long-liners were boarded and inspected between 25 July and 10 August this year.
It was reassuring that no serious violations of WCPFC compliance measures were detected, Heatley says.
”New Zealand is committed to working closely with its Pacific partners to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the region and also to secure the economic future of both ourselves and our Pacific neighbours who rely heavily on sustainable fish stocks” says Heatley.
The Te Vaka Moana countries (New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Samoa, Niue and Tokelau) aim to ensure sustainable management of the sub-regional fisheries they rely on to meet both their existing and development aspirations. These countries have committed to developing their knowledge of the fishery in their area.
Operation Zodiac has provided a wealth of information that will help identify issues that need to be considered when determining appropriate fisheries management arrangements for the area. This will ensure both long-term sustainability and improved economic benefits.
This operation was an excellent demonstration that we now have the capability to effectively monitor our own EEZ, and also to provide a resource that contributes to monitoring, control and surveillance objectives in the wider Pacific. In future, New Zealand will have a higher maritime profile in the region and will conduct joint patrolling with other countries,” says Heatley. (FIS/MP).-