The New Zealand Defence Force has deployed offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Wellington and a P-3K2 Orion surveillance aircraft from the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s 5 Squadron to carry out three weeks of maritime and aerial surveillance patrols in the Southern Ocean.
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is set to begin about three weeks of maritime and aerial surveillance patrols in the Southern Ocean, marking almost two decades of compliance checks in one of the world’s most challenging environments.
Major General (MAJGEN) Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Wellington and a P-3K2 Orion surveillance aircraft from the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s 5 Squadron have been deployed to carry out the compliance patrols.
“We help enforce the Government’s commitment to safeguard the unique and fragile environment of the Southern Ocean.”
The NZDF has conducted patrols in the Southern Ocean for nearly 20 years, initially using its P-3K2 Orion aircraft, MAJGEN Gall said.
“In recent years, we have also deployed our offshore patrol vessels, making our patrols even more effective at tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated [IUU] fishing.”
Last year’s patrols monitored for IUU fishing and carried out compliance checks on eight licensed fishing vessels.
Lieutenant Commander Matt Kaio, the Commanding Officer of Wellington, said the crew were well-prepared to tackle the challenges of operating in one of the world’s most inhospitable environments.
The maritime and aerial surveillance patrols are in support of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which co-operatively manages the Southern Ocean fisheries and protects the Antarctic marine ecosystem.
The licensed CCAMLR fishing season in the Ross Sea region south of New Zealand is expected to start on 1 December and will continue until the agreed limits are reached some time in January or early February 2017.
Both Wellington and the Orion were among several assets mobilised by the NZDF to support the Government’s earthquake response.
A Littoral Warfare Unit embarked on Wellington surveyed approaches for landing crafts and anchorage positions in Kaikoura, paving the way for amphibious sealift vessel HMNZS Canterbury to bring aid supplies to the quake-damaged seaside community.
An Air Force Orion flew 15 hours to survey quake-damaged areas.