The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) joined the French Armed Forces of New Caledonia (FANC) who hosted the sixth occasion of the NASSE international fisheries operation.
Organised from May to August within the framework of the Pacific Quadrilateral Defence Coordination Group (France, New Zealand, Australia and the United States), this operation aims to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities on the high seas of the South West Pacific, where the rules of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), the regional fisheries management organisation, apply.
In May, the New South Wales Water Police patrol boat Nemesis with two AFMA officers as authorised WCPFC inspectors on board, and the FANC’s FNS d’Entrecasteux carried out patrols as part of Operation NASSE. The patrols were supported by New Zealand P-3K2 Orion and French F200 Gardian aerial surveillance.
For three weeks in July-August the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC), set up in Nouméa within the FANC, co-ordinated the main phase of operations. Two officers each from AFMA, the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries and a liaison officer from the United States Coast Guard (USCG), joined the FANC team.
In total, 18 surveillance flights and 14 high seas boarding and inspections were undertaken, and the WCPFC recorded at least eight infringements, with further infringements pending investigation.
The presence of French, American, Australian and New Zealand officers in the FANC HQ also allowed for improved coordination of resources, facilitated the exchange of tactical information, and ensured direct supervision of the controls, for greater effectiveness.
This joint phase also enabled numerous exchanges of best practices, both on the monitoring of operations and on the implementation of controls at sea.
‘These multinational operations provide us with an opportunity to strengthen our relationships with international counterparts, which is essential when fighting illegal fishing,’ said AFMA CEO Wez Norris, commenting that IUU fishing is a shared problem and Operation NASSE continues to demonstrate that international cooperation is crucial.
‘The continuously positive outcomes of Operation NASSE demonstrate that regionally we have the resources, intelligence and capabilities to protect marine natural resources.’
The Pacific is home to nearly 60% of the world’s tuna stocks and the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) values that approximately 192,000 tonnes of tuna are associated with IUU fishing there each year. AFMA recognises that cooperation with other countries is vital to successfully combat IUU fishing and to sustainably manage shared fish stocks that cross multiple Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and the high seas.