Samoan police officers from the crew of the Samoan patrol boat NAFANUA watch over the shoulders of the RNZAF tactical crew as they monitor the radar displays of an RNZAF P-3K2 Orion during a patrol of the waters within the Tongan and Cook Islands EEZ last week.
2 August 2014
A P-3K2 Orion aircraft from the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF) Airborne Surveillance and Response Force (No 5 Squadron at Base Auckland in Whenuapai) took part in an international maritime surveillance operation hosted by the Cook Islands Maritime Police that concluded this week.
The P-3K2 was based in Tonga and Samoa and provided support to patrol boats from these two countries as well as one from the Cook Islands, patrolling the Tongan and Cook Islands’ Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs).
The operation was planned and co-ordinated by staff from the participating countries and provided a focus for those nations to work together to combat illegal fishing and other crimes at sea.
It also provided an opportunity to exercise the principles of the Niue Treaty, which enables member nations to enforce fisheries legislation, protect natural resources and combat all forms of maritime crime in each other’s EEZs.
New Zealand is a key maritime surveillance partner for Pacific Islands countries, supporting their maritime surveillance activities to help protect the fisheries, which are a key economic resource for the region.
The RNZAF’s Air Component Commander, Air Commodore Kevin McEvoy, who is responsible for all Air Force operations, said that the New Zealand aircraft play an important role in helping Pacific Island countries combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
“These operations help strengthen our bi-lateral and military relationships with our key South-West Pacific partners as we meet our obligations in the region and demonstrate New Zealand’s commitment to international fisheries management conventions,” he said.
The aircraft captain, Squadron Leader Marcus Hogan, said that it had been a rewarding and productive operation.
“The upgraded P-3K2 Orion is perfect for this work. We get the satisfaction of carrying out a valuable and important task in support of our neighbouring nations. At the same time we are up-skilling many of our people and working alongside other maritime enforcement agencies. It’s been a great operation to be on,” he said.