Australia and New Zealand are continuing to supporting maritime surveillance and security patrols in Vanuatu and Solomon Island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Royal Solomon Islands Police Vessel (RSIPV) Auki returned to Honiara last week following a 16 day fisheries operation targeting Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing across both Vanuatu’s and Solomon Island’s EEZ. The operation, designated Operation SOLVAN, is an Australian Government-funded operation.

AUKI was joined in Port Vila by HMNZS WELLINGTON, a Royal New Zealand Navy Offshore Patrol Vessel, commanded by LT CDR Matt Kaio. HMNZS WELLINGTON, also conducting a parallel and mutually beneficial operation, Operation CALYPSO, focussed on IUU fishing in the South West Pacific.

Both activities provided an opportunity for an officer exchange consisting of two Vanuatu Police Maritime Wing officers and two Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) officers who joined HMNZS WELLINGTON to gain valuable training and sea experience during the operations. In turn, two Royal New Zealand Navy officers cross decked to ride in AUKI to gain a valuable insight to life on a Pacific Class Patrol Boat.

The operation was extremely successful with a total of 30 boarding’s conducted, 14 within Vanuatu EEZ and 16 within Solomon Islands EEZ.

LT CDR Kaio said that "Through patrolling these waters, we are helping to deter IUU fishing; this protects the livelihoods of Pacific Island communities and promotes sustainable fishing in the Pacific".

Under the Defence Cooperation Program (DCP), the Australian Government provides assistance with maritime surveillance to eleven countries across the Pacific. The centrepiece of this is the Pacific Patrol Boat Program.

In Solomon Islands the DCP provides fuel and rations funding to support a majority of surveillance operations conducted by RSIPV Auki and Lata. Australia also provides training opportunities for Maritime Division officers and two full-time, Honiara-based Australian Defence Force Maritime Advisors.

Press Release: Australian High Commission Office, Honiara.