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Pacific leaders welcome state of the art aerial surveillance

The FFA aircraft with the leaders coming out of it. Photo: FFA

YAREN, Nauru – September 8, 2018: 10am (PIF/FFA): Pacific Forum Leaders have welcomed the increased air surveillance capacity of the new Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) Aerial Surveillance Program funded by Australia.

In a special event hosted at the Nauru International Airport this evening, leaders were able to inspect one of two King Air200 aircraft, fitted with high tech sensor, avionics and communications technologies under the Pacific Maritime Security Program, PMSP.

 “The Aerial Surveillance program is ensuring we have more Pacific eyes in the sky on fisheries activity across the exclusive economic zones of our Pacific member nations,” says FFA Director General James Movick.

 “Today is an exciting milestone for fisheries surveillance, as well as broader law enforcement supporting the protection of our people, islands, and oceanic resources.”

 Chair of the Forum Fisheries Committee, Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna commended the excellence, efforts and determination towards “a new era for maritime surveillance at the crossroads of a new era for our blue continent.”

 “I am particularly pleased to thank Australia for its role in future-proofing a successful Pacific Patrol Boat program which has served our region so well. Enforcement of stringent data protocols will continue to ensure FFA can continue this success story in regional cooperation with cross-border maritime surveillance at its core,” he added.

 The Pacific Maritime Surveillance Program now includes civilian contractors to the continued   support from the QUADS (defence assets of Australia, France, New Zealand and the United States).

 Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon. Marise Payne noted the Pacific Maritime Security Program as being a major part of Australia’s defence cooperation work in the Pacific and a commitment of Australia’s support to the Pacific region over the next 30 years.

 “I would encourage Pacific Leaders to take the opportunity of being Local Air Observers when the King Air is in your country and witness how the aircraft working with your Pacific Patrol Boat can enhance maritime domain awareness. The aerial surveillance will be provided to 15 Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) members in a phased approach with an initial focus on detecting and responding to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing threats, but can also be used for broader maritime security threats,” she said.

 Forum Fisheries Ministers as well as Forum Leaders thanked outgoing FFA Director General James Movick for “upholding the legacy of excellence in strength through cooperation against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in our waters, and for keeping the work of many years on track to its current enhanced support for Pacific maritime work.”

 Leaders were also updated on the ‘Operation Frigate Bird’ surveillance exercise Nauru had rolled out this week, partnering with the Kiribati patrol boat Teanoai to access the Aerial Surveillance Program assets under the Niue Treaty.

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