Navy casts its net over illegal fishing in regional waters

This article has photo gallery Published on Department of Defence (author)

Location(s): Alofi, Niue

Delegates from the Royal Australian Navy, the New Zealand Defence Force, Tonga and the Cook Islands at the Cenotaph in Alofi, Niue on completion of the ANZAC Day Dawn Service (photo: )
Delegates from the Royal Australian Navy, the New Zealand Defence Force, Tonga and the Cook Islands at the Cenotaph in Alofi, Niue on completion of the ANZAC Day Dawn Service

The Royal Australian Navy has joined the fight against illegal fishing around Niue, securing greater maritime patrols of the Pacific island nation's waters by neighbouring countries. 

The agreement was reached during a planning conference on Niue held in late April. 

Maritime Surveillance Adviser to Tonga, Lieutenant Commander David Ince and his counterparts in Samoa, Lieutenant Commander Mal Parsons, and the Cook Islands, Lieutenant Commander Tony Grubb of the Royal New Zealand Navy attended.

Lieutenant Commander Ince said Pacific class patrol boats from Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands were likely to be patrolling the tuna-rich waters of Niue soon. 

This was what the Australian Defence Cooperation Program was set up to achieve, he said, referring to the program established to maximise Australia's security through developing close and enduring links with regional partners.

"As Niue has a significant sized Exclusive Economic Zone and no Pacific class patrol boats to discourage illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, the opportunity to share some of the 'love' to Niue presented itself," Lieutenant-Commander Ince said.

In 1983 the Australian Government created the Pacific Patrol Boat Program to design and provide suitable patrol boats to nearby island nations, along with training and infrastructure to support these ships. 

From 1983 to 1997, 22 patrol boats were delivered to 12 countries, including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, the Cook Islands, Samoa and Vanuatu.

All of those who attended the conference also took part in the last Anzac Day dawn service in the world for 2016.  

"With Niue being just the other side of the timeline this service took place a full 24 hours after Australia's events," Lieutenant Commander Parsons said.

Niue is located 2,400 kilometres northeast of New Zealand and lies within the triangle formed by Tonga to the west, Samoa to the north, and the Cook Islands to the east

It has a population of 1,200, no sheltered harbour, and only one flight, via Auckland, per week.