Surveillance Operation TUI MOANA shows continuing determination by FFA members to deter illegal fishing

FFA REGIONAL HEADQUARTERS, HONIARA, SOLOMON ISLANDS, MONDAY 8 JUNE 2010: Operation Tui Moana, a surveillance operation involving Cook Islands, Samoa and New Zealand, coordinated by the FFA Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre, concluded on Monday demonstrating determination by FFA members to deter illegal fishing by conducting regional MCS operations.

Over  10 days, the Cook Island Pacific patrol boat with two NZ fisheries officers, supported by a P3K Orion surveillance aircraft provided by the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF),  conducted surveillance and boarding operations in the EEZ's of Samoa, Cook Islands and the surrounding high seas areas and the pocket adjacent to Cook Islands EEZ. 

Pacific Patrol boat President Te Kukupa from Cook Islands, complemented the surveillance by a RNZAF P3C Orion surveillance aircraft provided by NZ to conduct patrols targeting Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing vessels. 

Over 30 fishing vessels were monitored in the operation area by the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) located at the FFA regional headquarters.  Although there were no boardings, the operation continues to send a message that vessels operating in the region are continually being monitored and any illegal activity will be quickly identified.   During the operation which involved more than 60 personnel, 2 million sq kms of ocean were monitored and 11 foreign fishing vessels were reported to the JCC. 

This effort was coordinated by the FFA Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre, at the FFA regional headquarters in Honiara which collects fisheries information and data from all the regional countries. In addition to the FFA staff, the JCC was manned during the operation by a watch keeper provided by Cook Islands and an Air Liaison Officer provided by the US Navy based in Okinawa.Using satellite tracking of vessels and other data, the FFA Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre produces interactive maps of the region which can show vessels that might be engaging in illegal fishing or have a previous history of illegal fishing. Using this analysis, the FFA Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre is able to advise all countries participating in an operation, locations where illegal activities are likely and coordinate the efforts of Pacific Islands and regional defence forces of US, France, New Zealand and Australia to best respond. This increases the efficiency of surveillance operations and led to several successes such as Operation Kurukuru 2009 where 10 fishing vessels were boarded, 3 apprehended and fines in excess of USD1.4 were imposed, and the recent Operation Rai Balang which resulted in two apprehensions of foreign fishing vessels.  


Operations Officer and Coordinator of Operation Tui Moana, Martin Campbell said: “This is the smallest of the annual operations coordinated by the FFA and, combined with the daily surveillance effort undertaken by the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre here at the FFA regional headquarters in Honiara, continues to complement the MCS effort being undertaken by the FFA members and regional Defence Forces.  I would like to take the opportunity of thanking all the countries and surveillance providers for their contribution to this key regional surveillance operation.”

“During this operation, countries have shared information from the Vessel Monitoring System, License Lists, surveillance flights and other fisheries data to really get a full picture about what is happening in the area of operations. With this regional surveillance picture, provided continuously by the FFA, countries can prioritise their patrols and send their Pacific Patrol Boats and surveillance aircraft where illegal activities are suspected or likely.”

“This operation continues to demonstrate to vessels fishing in the region that their day-to-day movements and activities are being monitored closely to ensure compliance with the regional and national fisheries regulations. We are now beginning to reap the rewards of this effort.  Fishing vessels know we are closely monitoring them on a daily basis and the number of suspicious vessels we find has dropped significantly over the past few months.”

“This cohesive and cooperative approach by all the participating nations of Cook Islands, Samoa and New Zealand, is in keeping with the direction from the recent Forum Leaders’ conference, which highlighted the need for a regional approach to the monitoring, control and surveillance of fishing in the Pacific region”.