A joint fisheries patrol conducted recently by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) underlines the Government's commitment to sustainable fishing.
From 3 February to 8 February, 3 fishery officers from North Harbour, Waikato, and Taranaki joined the Royal New Zealand Navy's inshore patrol vessel HMNZS Hawea and a Seasprite SH-2G(I) helicopter to patrol about 2,050 kilometres from the Coromandel up to Cape Reinga and down to Taranaki.
The fishery officers wanted to target an area that is relatively isolated and less accessible to patrol, which has a vast number of regulations that the commercial fleet are required to adhere to. A number of regulations are in place to protect the Maui dolphin – an endemic species to New Zealand with a population of approximately 63 individuals.
"These patrols are a valuable exercise in monitoring compliance levels at sea for longer durations," MPI spokesman, Richard Ratapu said.
"It was great to achieve such a vast coverage of commercial monitoring over a short concentrated period.
"Our joint presence with the NZDF helps to raise compliance levels. This ultimately supports sustainable fisheries management, which is the aim of these patrols," said Mr Ratapu.
Lieutenant Brock West, the commanding officer of the Hawea, said the combined NZDF and MPI boarding team inspected 15 recreational and commercial vessels during the operation.
A number of alleged offences were detected and follow-up action will be made by MPI.
"The key message we deliver through these patrols is that we have rules on inshore fishing and we are serious about enforcing them," Lieutenant West said.
"The MPI inspections check what they have fished and what quantities are reported as we seek to monitor the impacts of fishing and ensure we have sustainable fish stocks for the future. The fishery officers also check whether the fishermen are using the right gear."
The NZDF regularly deploys its aircraft and vessels to support MPI and New Zealand Customs in patrolling New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone.
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