NZDF’s Maritime Patrols in Fiji Detect More Infringements

A combined team from the New Zealand Defence Force, the Ministry for Primary Industries and Fijian Government agencies boarded 51 vessels and detected five alleged infringements during the latest patrol of Fiji’s maritime water aboard Royal New Zealand Navy ship HMNZS Hawea.

The number of vessels boarded has reached almost 500 since the maritime security and fisheries patrols started more than five months ago.

Lieutenant Brock West, the Commanding Officer of Inshore Patrol Vessel HMNZS Hawea, said the latest alleged infringements included fishing without a license, dumping rubbish at sea, lack of work permits and breach of safety regulations such as not having life jackets or holding master’s licenses.

“The local knowledge of our Fijian partner-agencies has been key to the strong results we have achieved so far,” Lieutenant West said.

There would be no let-up in focus on the patrols, he said.

“The team’s focus on achieving the mission remains as strong as when we started these patrols more than five months ago.

“We’ve also noted a greater public awareness of Hawea’s work in Fiji.”

Commodore Jim Gilmour, the Maritime Component Commander, said the operation had strengthened longstanding military ties and people-to-people links between the two countries.

“Through these combined patrols we have been able to support the Fiji Navy on maritime surveillance and in developing their capability. These have also helped our sailors enhance their general mariner skills,” Commodore Gilmour said.

The NZDF sent Hawea to Fiji in April to help patrol the South Pacific country’s territorial water and Exclusive Economic Zone, which encompasses more than 1.1 million square kilometers.

Personnel from Fiji’s Ministry of Fisheries and Forest, Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority, Fiji Navy and New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries take part in the patrols.

About 40 Fiji Navy sailors have joined the ship for training so far.