Fisheries patrols in the Pacific

The ADF has helped protect the fishing industries of island nations in the south-west Pacific region by taking part in a maritime surveillance operation in search of illegal fishing.

CAPTION: A Royal Australian Air Force C-27J Spartan flies over HMAS Maitland off the coast of Honiara, Solomon Islands, during a maritime surveillance patrol for illegal fishing activity on Operation Solania. Photo by FLTLT Peter Spearman.

HMAS Maitland and a RAAF C-27J Spartan were deployed on Operation Solania throughout March, supporting the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Operation Rai Balang.

Other FFA-member countries contributed to Operation Rai Balang in support of the economic development of the region.

Chief of Joint Operations Lieutenant General Greg Bilton said the ADF was proud to take part in the operation.

“The ADF is committed to removing the threat of illegal exploitation of fisheries poses in the exclusive economic zones of our South West Pacific neighbours,” Lieutenant General Bilton said.

“Operation Solania also contributes to a wider multi-national program to provide surveillance support in the Pacific region and we take every opportunity to work together with our partners to promote regional stability and prosperity.”

During Operation Solania, the ADF adhered to strict COVID-safe practices.

The aircraft and crew quarantined in Honiara, Solomon Islands, and underwent COVID-19 testing; returning negative results before conducting operations.

HMAS Maitland also conducted a COVID-safe contactless port visit in Honiara in order to refuel and replenish stores.

Operation Solania complements the Australian Government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program, which provides contracted aircraft and maritime tasking through the FFA up to 365 days a year across 15 Pacific nations.

Australian Defence Force personnel Flight Lieutenant Peter Spearman, Captain Tim Horne and Commander Robert Lewis with staff from the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre during Operation Solania in the Solomon Islands.

CAPTION: Australian Defence Force personnel Flight Lieutenant Peter Spearman, Captain Tim Horne and Commander Robert Lewis with staff from the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre during Operation Solania in the Solomon Islands.

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