September 5, 2018 – The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) inspected 23 foreign-flagged fishing vessels on the high seas as part of joint maritime patrols it conducted recently with three other countries.
Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Otago and a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft supported the maritime surveillance operation with the three other member-countries of the Quadrilateral Defence Coordination Group (QUAD) – Australia, France and the United States.
In this year’s operation, fishing vessels were inspected on the seas surrounding New Zealand’s northern Exclusive Economic Zone boundaries.
“The four countries working together on this monitoring, control and surveillance operation reflect the regional solidarity to sustainable high-seas fishing,” Major General Gall said.
Lieutenant Commander Lorna Gray, the Commanding Officer of Otago, said the vessels were inspected by an inter-agency team that included authorized inspectors from New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries and the United States Coast Guard.
MPI Manager for Fisheries Compliance Greg Keys said the key objective of the operation was to better understand fishing practices and ensure compliance with the Convention on the Conservation and Management of the Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean and the conservation and management measures adopted by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).
Lieutenant Commander Gray said the involvement of an authorized inspector from the United States maximized the use of WCPFC-trained inspectors and enhanced the effectiveness of the WCPFC boarding and inspection procedures, so it was a big boost to have a United States Coast Guard authorized inspector who could speak five languages on board.
“This year’s operation was an opportunity to further develop information sharing and provide a coordinated approach to high-seas boarding and inspections with our QUAD partners,” she said.