The New Zealand Defence Force’s maritime and aerial surveillance patrols in the Southern Ocean are off to a flying start, with nine licensed fishing vessels boarded and checked for compliance.
CAPTION: HMNZS Wellington on patrol in the Southern Ocean. RNZDF photo.
Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said the patrols covered a lot of ground in the first week of operations.
“There was no mistaking the message that we want to get across – we are serious about ensuring compliance with fishing regulations in the Southern Ocean,” Major General Gall said.
“The NZDF is committed to enforcing the government’s pledge to safeguard the unique and fragile environment of the Southern Ocean.”
The NZDF has deployed offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Wellington and a P-3K2 Orion surveillance aircraft from the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s 5 Squadron to carry out the compliance patrols as part of a multi-agency operation in support of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).
CCAMLR cooperatively conserves the Antarctic marine ecosystem and regulates the Southern Ocean fisheries.
Lieutenant Commander Matt Kaio, the Commanding Officer of HMNZS Wellington, said his ship’s boarding parties had boarded and inspected nine licensed fishing vessels so far.
“The boarding parties consisted of fishery officers from the Ministry for Primary Industries and crew from Wellington,” he said.
“All of the fishing vessels co-operated with the boarding teams.”
The P-3K2 Orion surveillance aircraft located a number of fishing vessels during a patrol on 30 November.
A New Zealand Defence Force statement said the sortie to the CCAMLR area in the Southern Ocean was about 2600km from Invercargill and took almost 13 hours.
The licensed CCAMLR fishing season in the Ross Sea region south of New Zealand started on 1 December and will continue until the agreed limits are reached sometime in January or early February 2017.
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