Thursday, October 8, 2020

Operation Nasse, a multi-country regional maritime surveillance operation between Australia, France, New Zealand and the United States of America, targeting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing on the high seas in the south Pacific Ocean, has concluded.

Coordinated by the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries, Operation Nasse 2020 was supported by sea and air assets provided by participating countries as well as analysts working remotely from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), Maritime Border Command, French Armed Forces, New Caledonia, United States Coast Guard (USCG), and the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA).

Operation Nasse is an annual fisheries operation involving Quadrilateral Defence Coordination Group and seeks to monitor fishing vessels operating in the high seas in conformance with international rules set by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).

AFMA’s General Manager of Operations Peter Venslovas said that, although COVID-19 presented some obstacles, the strong partnerships that exist between the countries involved ensured Operation Nasse was a success.

“This operation relied heavily on information sharing and demonstrated that working collaboratively with our regional partners is key to an effective Monitoring, Control and Surveillance program,” Mr Venslovas said.

“Aerial surveillance enabled our officers to monitor an area of nearly 100,000 square nautical miles, working in concert with surface support by the French Navy Patrol vessel La Glorieuse, the NZ Offshore Patrol Vessel HMNZS Otago and the US Coast Guard Cutter Kimball”.

Aerial surveillance by Australian Maritime Border Command, a multi-agency taskforce within the Australian Border Force, Dash 8s based out of Coffs Harbour and the Sunshine Coast covered the high seas adjacent to the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island. Other air assets included RNZAF P3K Orion based out of Auckland, French Gardian from Noumea and USCG C-130 aircraft flying out of Fiji.

Fishing vessel and fleet profiling, conducted by Australian analysts, assisted the air and sea surveillance assets in prioritising monitoring and surveillance activities to areas where independent monitoring was low.

Surveillance assets made 146 vessel contacts in the area of operation. In place of physical vessel inspections, 22 vessels were subject to radio interrogation that included questions relating to implementation of bycatch mitigation measures, transhipment activities, presence of observers and duration of their trips. All vessels were registered to fish in the WCPFC Convention area.

Tuna stocks are a critical resource for many Pacific Island countries. Working collectively to ensure that the rules put in place to manage these fish stocks across this region are upheld will sustain these resources for future generations.

For more information on how Australia is combating illegal fishing visit afma.gov.au.