ADF helps deter illegal fishing in collaboration with Vanuatu

19 March 2024

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has completed support to the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Operation Rai Balang for 2024, working with Pacific partners to detect and deter illegal fishing activity in the region.

Through Operation Solania, ADF personnel contributed to the FFA’s coordinated maritime surveillance operation to detect activities such as illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.

This iteration of Operation Solania had a dedicated Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-27J Spartan operate out of Vanuatu.

Working alongside the Vanuatu Police Force, the C-27J Spartan flew extensive patrols, covering thousands of square kilometres of Vanuatu’s exclusive economic zone. 

Chief of Joint Operations Lieutenant General Greg Bilton said the ADF was committed to working with Pacific partners to enhance regional maritime security.

“IUU fishing degrades the livelihoods of legitimate fishing communities in the Pacific, while also threatening marine ecosystems,” Lieutenant General Greg Bilton said.

“The ADF is proud to partner with the FFA, Pacific nations and members of the Pacific Quadrilateral Defence Coordinating Group (Australia, the United States, New Zealand and France) in helping to combat IUU fishing activities. 

“Our longstanding relationships and shared history, culture and values enable Australia and Pacific partners to work effectively and quickly to support shared priorities.”

Operation Solania is a tangible demonstration of Australia’s ongoing commitment to the region, complementing our engagement through the Pacific Maritime Security Program. 

Australia is committed to providing our Pacific partners with capability that will make a meaningful contribution to their capacity to patrol and protect their maritime domains, including through the provision of Guardian-class patrol boats, training, in-country technical services, and permanent staffing resources to the FFA’s Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre in Solomon Islands. 

Australia also contributes region-wide contracted aerial surveillance to enable targeted, intelligence-driven patrols to respond to transnational crime.

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