New Zealand fishery officers say they will continue to patrol international waters with the navy after a recent patrol to inspect boats fishing for Pacific tuna.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said Thursday that four of its compliance officers aboard the HMNZS Wellington offshore patrol vessel boarded and inspected an unspecified number of tuna boats in international waters adjacent to New Zealand's exclusive economic zone.
The inspections were aimed at monitoring compliance with the legally binding conservation and management measures put in place by member countries of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, said an MPI statement.
A number of offences were detected, including serious breaches by a Fijian flagged longline vessel and the Fijian authorities responded swiftly by imposing "severe sanctions" on the vessel.
"Patrolling the international waters to the north of New Zealand is of great importance due to the migratory nature of the tuna stocks. If the fish are not being sustainably managed in this area or fishing vessels are operating outside of the rules and requirements, it will impact greatly on our own domestic tuna fisheries," MPI director of compliance Dean Baigent said in the statement.
During the operation, HMNZS Wellington also conducted a joint fishery patrol in the Tuvalu exclusive economic zone to protect the valuable fishery resources that formed the basis of the Tuvalu economy.