A Royal New Zealand Navy maritime patrol of Samoan waters has “pleasingly” turned up fishing vessels operating within fishing regulations.

HMNZS Taupo last week completed a 967-nautical mile maritime security and fisheries patrol of Samoa’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) at the invitation of the Samoan Government.

Three vessels, which were licensed to fish in Samoan waters, were contacted by radio.
The two larger vessels were boarded while the smallest vessel was visually inspected from HMNZS Taupo. None were subsequently reported to authorities for breaches of fishing regulations.

However, minor safety and equipment infringements were observed on each vessel.

Two Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats from HMNZS Taupo approach a vessel prior to boarding

Commanding Officer Lieutenant Samara Mankelow said she and the crew were pleased with the results of the operation.

“Illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing is a major issue that threatens sustainable fisheries and the livelihood of Pacific people,” she said.

“We’re very pleased that the vessels we made contact with and boarded were all operating within the regulations.”

Three Samoan Maritime Police, who recently completed training with the Royal New Zealand Navy’s Maritime Training Team, two Samoan Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries officers and one Fisheries New Zealand Fishery Officer joined HMNZS Taupo’s crew of 37 for the patrol.

“Working with our neighbors to patrol their EEZs is an important way of helping them to protect their resources, and it’s gratifying to contribute to the ongoing fight against IUU fishing,” Lieutenant Mankelow said.

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) supports Pacific neighbours and organisations such as the Forum Fisheries Agency and Pacific Quadrilateral Defence Coordinating Group by conducting several maritime security and fisheries patrols each year throughout the Pacific, utilising air and sea assets.

Information and evidence is gathered and provided to the relevant Pacific governments and regulatory agencies, which can then seek to prosecute the owners of the fishing vessels engaged in the illegal activity.

HMNZS Taupo will return to New Zealand at the completion of patrols, and further fisheries monitoring will be conducted by the NZDF during the remainder of the year.