A multi-million-dollar operation targeting Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing was conducted between October 7-18, 2019 covering 21.3 million square kilometres of the Pacific Islands region.
The Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) led Operation Kurukuru is one of the largest maritime surveillance operations globally covering an area the land size of Russia, India and Egypt combined.
It was coordinated from the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre at the FFA Secretariat in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
FFA Director General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen said “Operation Kurukuru is the largest of the four major Operations coordinated and supported by the FFA each year. These operations empower members to take collective and national action against IUU fishing and the success of these operations is due to the commitment and partnerships with our members along with the assets provided by Australia, France, New Zealand and the United States.”
“The operation consumes considerable resources, but we continue to undertake them to ensure our members have the highest levels of social and economic benefits through the protection and sustainable use of our offshore fisheries resources.”
The 12-day Operation saw around 132 sea days of active patrolling and 540 flight hours of maritime air surveillance. There were 131 boardings both at sea and dockside, with only four infringements found.
The FFA Surveillance and Operations Officer Commander Robert Lewis, seconded from the Royal Australian Navy said “The fact there were no unknown fishing vessels found with such thorough air surveillance coverage and only 4 infringements imposed with such a high level of boarding is evidence that current regulations and law enforcement practices are working well with the four FFA operations leading the effort.”
Ordinary Seaman, Sereima Naiqovu from the Fijian Navy, the first female Fijian Naval person to attend Operation Kurukuru, serving as Watch Keeper.
Operation Kurukuru aims to detect, deter, report and/or apprehend potential IUU fishing activity but also looks to build capacity of watch-keepers, intelligence analysts and supervisory staff seconded to the RFSC during the Operation, to conduct their own Operations upon their return home.
The Operation involves 15 FFA Members – Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Niue, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. It also involves the Quadrilateral Defence Coordination Group - Australia, France, New Zealand and the United States of America