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Royal New Zealand Navy patrol vessel HMNZS Taupo arrived in Fiji this morning to conduct combined maritime patrols with the Republic of Fiji Navy over the next three months.
This is the second consecutive year that the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is helping Fiji patrol its Exclusive Economic Zone of more than 1.2 million square kilometres. Two Fishery Officers from New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries will support at-sea boarding and inspection of fishing vessels.
HMNZS Taupo Commanding Officer Lieutenant Benjamin Flight said the crew were looking forward to working with their Fiji counterparts and build on the good work that was achieved last year.
“We also hope to learn from each other and further strengthen the ties between our two militaries,” Lieutenant Flight said.
Fiji Minister for Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau said Fiji authorities appreciated the NZDF’s continued maritime patrol support.
“The Government of Fiji has demonstrated a strong commitment to strengthening the management of our fishery resources for the benefit of the people of Fiji,” Koroilavesau said. “The support of New Zealand, through the NZDF, and the collaboration with our partner-agencies such as the Fiji Navy contribute greatly to the Government achieving this goal.”
Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said the combined maritime surveillance patrols with Fiji would also contribute to region-wide efforts to promote sustainable fishing.
“Together with Fiji authorities, we want to reinforce the message that we are committed to protecting valuable Pacific fishery resources,” Major General Gall said.
“New Zealand and Fiji, as well as other countries in the region, have a shared interest in ensuring these resources are managed effectively.”
HMNZS Taupo crew will also train Fiji Navy sailors, as well as personnel from the Ministry of Fisheries and Fiji Revenue and Customs Service. About 50 Fiji Navy sailors, 27 Customs Officers and 19 Fishery Officers trained on inshore patrol vessel HMNZS Hawea last year.
A World Bank report said the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, regions that include the Pacific Island countries, supply about 60 per cent of the world’s tuna. Pacific Island countries supply 34 per cent of the world’s tuna catch each year, with an estimated value of US$3.4 billion in recent years.
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