The Tui Moana Operation, a regional fisheries surveillance operation covering the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga and Tuvalu as well as associated high seas, marked 20 years of protecting this important Pacific resource.
Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) Director of Fisheries Operations, Allan Rahari reflected that recognising the contribution of Operation Tui Moana to the protection of over six million square kilometres of ocean is particularly relevant as the world celebrates UN International Day for the Fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (June 5).
“In my own experience of working on Tui Moana over the last 13 years I’ve seen a real evolution in how we respond to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,” said Mr Rahari.
“We see less “dark”, or unlicensed, vessels but are responding to more issues around licensed vessels contravening their conditions, especially though misreporting and under-reporting their catches and through unauthorised transhipment”
“We have increasingly focused on intelligence gathering and analysis, providing targeted information before and during operations in order to support surveillance activities by Pacific countries. Utilising the latest technology such as dark vessel detection and satellite monitoring has also improved our success rates. “
FFA’s Director General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen acknowledged the importance of Pacific collaboration in securing the region from illegal activities.
“This is a significant milestone in our commitment to protecting our economically important fisheries.” said Dr Tupou-Roosen.
“We are so grateful to our Members and partners for standing with us to deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in our waters over such a significant amount of time. The strength of our partnerships has been especially notable and enhanced during the COVID-19 crisis.” added Dr Tupou-Roosen
Despite the challenges of Covid, five Pacific patrol vessels were scheduled to participate in Operation Tui Moana this week, alongside one maritime surveillance aircraft from the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
FFA conducts four operations every year and Tui Moana is the second this year. FFA has been providing surveillance support to the Pacific region for 42 years.
Traditionally Pacific QUAD partners, Australia, New Zealand, France and the United States, provide support through aerial and surface surveillance, alongside the FFA Aerial Surveillance Programme aircraft and Pacific Island country patrol boats, further enhancing the maritime surveillance coverage during each operation.