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Royal New Zealand Navy Team Supports Fiji To Counter Illegal, Unreported And Unregulated Fishing


A 10-personnel Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) contingent
has completed a six-week deployment supporting the Fiji
Ministry of Fisheries to counter illegal, unreported and
unregulated fishing in Fiji’s Exclusive Economic Zone,
which covers 1.29 million square kilometres.

An
eight-person Deployable Boarding Team (DBT) from HMNZS
Matataua – the RNZN’s littoral warfare support unit –
along with two Junior Warfare Officers embarked the United
Kingdom’s Royal Navy (RN) vessel HMS Tamar in Auckland in
March before beginning a sweep of Fiji’s waters for
vessels fishing illegally, as well as other illicit activity
including poor crew welfare, pollution or involvement in the
shark fin trade.

A
boarding team comes alongside HMS
Tamar

Partnering with Fijian fishery
officers, the boarding teams from HMS Tamar intercepted and
boarded 23 vessels.

All vessels were complying with
the terms of their licences, though several were found to
have minor infractions with their long-line fishing
practices. Local authorities indicated this could be due to
a recent policy transition which is still being communicated
to vessels.

Lieutenant Jack Walters, officer in charge
of the DBT, said it was a great opportunity to represent the
RNZN and Aotearoa while supporting our international
partners.

“There is an estimated loss of FJ$600m
(approx. NZ$440m) to illegal, unreported and unregulated
fishing in the Pacific region each year,” Lieutenant
Walters said.

Sub
Lieutenants Darren Pace and Elliot Bell on the bridge of HMS
Tamar.

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“This combined effort has
strengthened deterrence and enforcement in the
region, which has a direct
correlation to the prosperity of our Pacific Island
neighbours. It’s heartening to see that there were no
concerning reports from any of the vessels we observed or
boarded.

“HMS Tamar is a capable platform enabled by
a professional and passionate crew, and we’ve appreciated
the opportunity to work with our UK counterparts for
enhanced relations and counter illegal, unreported and
unregulated fishing.”

Sub Lieutenant Darren Pace was
one of the two Junior Warfare Officers on board, and said
the opportunity enabled them to experience life on a foreign
warship and gain valuable exposure to boarding operations,
including holding watches on the bridge alongside their RN
counterparts.

“Being able to work with other nations
on operations are the exact experiences I joined the New
Zealand Defence Force for,” he said.

Petty
Officer Seaman Combat Specialist Jordan McHugh and Able
Hydrographic Systems Operator Mya-Marie Wells on board a
vessel of interest.

“Conducting
bridge watches on HMS Tamar was an awesome opportunity to
gain and maintain navigation skills that will support our
career development.”

The DBT team – which was stood
up last year – is a specialist capability providing a
ready-to-go resource that can support an RNZN ship or
vessels of partner nations on operations.

HMS Tamar is
a Batch 2 River-Class Offshore Patrol Vessel of the RN.
Alongside its sister-ship HMS Spey, it is forward-deployed
to the Indo-Pacific as part of the UK’s enduring
commitment to the region.

A
boarding team prepares to approach a vessel of
interest.

© Scoop Media

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