Operation Island Chief protects Pacific from illegal fishing

Operation Island Chief, a Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency-led surveillance operation covering 18.2 million squarekilometres, came to a successful closure today (Friday 26th August 2022).

Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) Director Fisheries Operations, Mr Allan Rahari said the 12-day Operation was strengthened by local knowledge and expertise.

“Island Chief, one of four operations conducted annually, is a massive operation that covers the Pacific waters of 11 participating FFA member nations – Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu,  Vanuatu and the high sea area,”said Mr Rahari.

The operation involved close to 400 personnel from the navy, police, air force and national fisheries bodies from across the Pacific.

The FFA Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre (RFSC) team, supported by 11 officers from the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF), Solomon Islands Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Fijian Navy, US Coast Guard and Australian Defence Force, provided watchkeepers and intelligence gathering and analysis capability, supplementing targeted information before and during the operation in order to support targeted surveillance activities by Member countries.

“Regional collaboration, the co-operative sharing of resources and intelligence, and the ongoing training and strengthening of local expertise is a critical cornerstone of the success of our surveillance operations- our Pacific personnel are highly experienced,”Mr Rahari said.

“Supporting Members to collate, analyse and filter data in order to improve national and regional surveillance efforts as well as to encourage and coordinate members monitoring and surveillance efforts in the High seas were key aims for Operation Island Chief. These aims were achieved during the operation.

Pacific QUAD partners, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, provided support through aerial and surface surveillance, alongside the FFA Aerial Surveillance Programme aircraft, further enhancing the maritime surveillance coverage during the operation. 11 ships, six aircraft and dark vessel detection technology rounded out the assets included in this complex operation. The operation was also supported by FFA partners, Global Fishing Watch, Canada Dark Vessel Detection (DVD) system and Xerra with data intelligence analysis and remote sensing capabilities.

 “We’d like to thank and acknowledge our international partners who have a long history of support for these important Pacific surveillance operations,” continued Mr Rahari.

FFA has been conducting surveillance operations in partnership with its Member countries and partners for over forty years. The FFA Operations have seen increasing levels of success with actions to tackle IUU evolving from previously being about protecting against illegal boats entering the fishery to being more around policing the operations of licensed vessels who haven’t followed the rules and regulations governing their activities. The Pacific region is a vast expanse and collaboration across the many partners, providing personnel and assets, is crucial to ongoing success.

HONIARA, 25th August 2022

Samantha Mattila
FFA Strategic Communications Manager
[email protected]

About the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)

FFA assists its 17-member countries to sustainably manage fishery resources that fall within their 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). FFA provides expertise, technical assistance and other support to its members who make decisions about their tuna resources and participate in regional decision making on tuna management. 

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