Fisheries patrols conducted by a combined team from the New Zealand Defence Force and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces got off to a flying start, with about 2200 kilometres of Fiji’s water covered and more than 16 vessels boarded.
1 June 2017
The initial fisheries patrol conducted by a combined team from the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces has covered about 2200 kilometres of sea around Fiji, with more than 16 vessels boarded.
Lieutenant Dave Luhrs, the Commanding Officer of Inshore Patrol Vessel HMNZS Hawea, said the first patrol focussed on the eastern and central divisions of Fiji, including sea around Lau, Lomaiviti and Kadavu islands and Tailevu province in Viti Levu, the largest island.
“The initial patrol was a success,” Lieutenant Luhrs said.
“We covered a huge area in one week. We have also proven that our crew and personnel from the Republic of Fiji Navy and other Fijian agencies have integrated well to be able to operate together effectively.”
The combined team boarded eight overseas yachts, eight commercial fishing vessels and a number of smaller craft during the initial patrol, he said.
“By operating together on these patrols, we are able to support the Fijian Navy and learn from them about the Fijian waters, reef navigation and the local culture,” Lieutenant Luhrs said.
The NZDF sent Hawea to Fiji in late April to help patrol its territorial water and Exclusive Economic Zone over the next six months. Hawea’s deployment to Fiji marks the first time that a Royal New Zealand Navy Inshore Patrol Vessel has been deployed to the South Pacific, and realises the New Zealand Government’s offer to assist Fiji in maritime surveillance.
Personnel from Fiji’s Ministry of Fisheries and Forest, Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority and the Republic of Fiji Navy, as well as New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries, have joined the patrols.
“These combined patrols offer a win-win situation for both the NZDF and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces. We are able to assist Fiji on maritime surveillance and at the same time develop our own capability on a range of general mariner skills,” said Commodore Jim Gilmour, the New Zealand Maritime Component Commander.
“More importantly, the operation reinforces the longstanding military ties and strong people-to-people links between our two countries.”