Australian Defence Force personnel have completed their latest mission to support the fight against illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activity in the south-west Pacific.
Under Operation Solania, Royal Australian Air Force personnel recently deployed to Solomon Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau, where they were supported by agencies from other countries, led by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency.
Based in Honiara, the team contributed aircraft to regional maritime surveillance missions over the exclusive economic zones of Federated States of Micronesia and Palau.
Assistant Minister for Defence Alex Hawke said the engagement supported Australia’s enduring commitment to help south-west Pacific nations protect their natural resources.
“Australia is dedicated to supporting our region and protecting its ocean resources, which are vital to the economies, livelihoods and cultures of many Pacific nations,” Mr Hawke said.
“Working alongside our Pacific partners, Defence is helping to maintain the current and long-term viability of the region’s ocean-based industries and livelihoods.
“Through Operation Solania, Australia helps to protect the maritime domains of 17 Pacific nations, contributing to aerial surveillance and maritime patrols led by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency.”
Director Air and Space Operations Centre Group Captain David Smith said Australia’s participation not only provided a meaningful contribution to Pacific nations, it offered a valuable opportunity to work alongside friends from across the region and share cultural experiences.
“A significant highlight of Operation Solania is the chance for our people to meet local communities, learn from different cultures, and build friendships with the Pacific partners with whom we work,” Group Captain Smith said.
Australia is one of 17 members of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, which is this year celebrating its 40th year of strengthening regional fisheries cooperation.