The Australian Defence Force has contributed to the ongoing fight against illegal fishing in the Southwest Pacific through the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Operation RAI BALANG.
A Royal Australian Air Force B300 King Air and C-27J Spartan, and the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Maryborough deployed in support of the operation, was conducted from 12 to 26 March 2020.
Joining 13 other nations, the Australian contingent assisted surveillance of the maritime territories of the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, Palau, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu.
Chief Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Greg Bilton, said Australia’s commitment to the FFA delivered under Australia’s Operation SOLANIA help protect the maritime-based economies of the Pacific.
“We recognise that ocean resources are a vital part of Pacific Island nations’ economies and protecting these economic exclusion zones from fishing exploitation is crucial,” Lieutenant General Bilton said.
“Together, Australia and our Southwest Pacific partners are safeguarding the long-term sustainability of local fishing industries and reducing environmental impacts.
“We have developed strong working relationships with our regional partners and organisations to support enduring participation in Operation SOLANIA, as well as other ongoing Pacific maritime security activities.”
During the course of the mission, approximately 14.1 million square kilometres were covered, with 108 sightings and 24 boardings occurring.