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Major New Zealand operation to commence

Pacific islanders will be seeing New Zealand naval ships and air force in their seas as a major operation kicks off to ensure maritime and regional security.

It is called Operation Mahi Tahi and it involves the New Zealand Government partnering with defence and fisheries officials in Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The joint patrol will not only tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Pacific but will also tackle other criminal activities that take place in the high seas.

The Pacific has become a route for transportation of narcotics and authorities have even highlighted human trafficking operations.

New Zealand’s navy ships will be part of a Pacific operation in the coming weeks. Picture – NZ Defence Force

In terms of IUU, the Pacific Community estimates that between US$500 million and US$700 million worth of revenue in terms of fisheries are lost each year.

New Zealand’s Minister of Defence Peeni Henare announced that the New Zealand Defence Force will support Pacific island partners through a range of maritime security and other support in the next three months.

NZ defence minister Peeni Henare. Pacific islanders will be seeing New Zealand naval ships and air force in their seas as a major operation kicks off to ensure maritime and regional security. Picture – Peeni Henare Twitter

“The Pacific is who we are as well as where we are. The challenges our region faces are New Zealand’s too, which is why the region is both a foreign policy and defence priority for the Government,” Mr Henare said in a statement.

“Our Royal New Zealand Navy ships HMNZS Wellington and HMNZS Manawanui will be departing New Zealand next week for a series of support activities under the banner Operation Mahi Tahi, which also includes maritime patrols by Orion aircraft.

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“Operation Mahi Tahi will see us working together to provide maritime security patrols to detect and deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing as well as undertaking reconnaissance of explosive remnants of war; training and capacity building in the fisheries sector; humanitarian aid and disaster relief planning and Pacific Defence Gender Network engagement.”

Mr Henare said that with most Pacific borders open, the operation would be a more hands-on partnership with Pacific partners’ priorities in order to achieve a peaceful, stable, prosperous and resilient Pacific region.

Pacific nations, while having large ocean boundaries, are mostly incapable of patrolling it on their own given the limited resources. Australia, New Zealand, the United States and even the French navy have provided support so this can be achieved.

A step up has been the set up of surveillance centers in many of the Pacific nations whereby fisheries and other authorities are able to see things and monitor ships in real time. The US is looking to upgrade this.

Pacific islanders will be seeing New Zealand naval ships and air force in their seas as a major operation kicks off to ensure maritime and regional security. Picture – NZ Defence Force

The US Coast Guard has also announced that the Pacific will see more of their presence.

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