Multi-national partnership preventing illegal fishing in the Pacific

Operation Nasse 2021, an annual cooperative fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) operation involving Australia, France, New Zealand and the United States of America, ended on 23 July. 

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) coordinated the three-week multilateral operation with the assistance of other Australian government agencies such as the NSW Water Police, Maritime Border Command (MBC) and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). 

Representatives from Australia, the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries, the United States Coast Guard (USCG), the French Ministère des Armées and the New Caledonian Armed Force embarked on surveillance and monitoring activities to deter illegal fishing in some of the most intensely fished sea-lanes in the region, the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. 

Australia deployed an MBC Dash 8, a RAAF King Air aircraft and the NSW Water Police offshore patrol vessel, Nemesis, from Sydney with AFMA fisheries officers deployed onboard all Australian assets. Joining these were a French Guardian surveillance aircraft, RNZAF P-3K Orion and a USCG C-130 Hercules. These assets were coordinated through a Joint Co-ordination Centre that provided a central point of communications and coordination across all partners.  

Throughout the 19-day operation, aircraft flew a total of 55 hours across the three areas of operation and surveilled 114 fishing vessels. AFMA and NSW officers conducted three high seas boardings and inspections in line with COVID-safe protocols. Positively, the vast majority of vessels encountered during the operation were in the right place doing the right thing. 

Operation Nasse countries will follow up with respective flag States in relation to suspected non-compliance with Conservation and Management Measures adopted by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation.  

AFMA CEO Wez Norris said that Operation Nasse demonstrates the power of international cooperation to counter illegal fishing and monitor the activities of licensed boats. 

“Information sharing through collaborative MCS operations is the key to preventing IUU fishing within our region,” Mr Norris said. 

“Through cooperative deployment of air and sea assets we support sustainable fisheries and do our part to help ensure that Pacific Island communities can obtain the economic and social benefits from the fisheries resources that they own. 

MPI Director of Compliance, Gary Orr, said “New Zealand is committed to raising fisheries compliance levels in the Pacific. This activity directly supports effective fisheries management in the region at a time where fisheries revenue is even more important than ever.” 

“Operation Nasse is an invaluable annual operation and we’re proud to work in close partnership with our Australian, French and United States friends. Thank you to AFMA for coordinating this year’s operation and the continued effort to protect our shared resources in Pacific.” 

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