Vessels detected by Ross Sea surveillance flight

  • Phil Goff
Foreign Affairs and Trade

Several contacts were made with fishing vessels on a surveillance flight conducted over the Ross Sea by an RNZAF Orion Aircraft on Thursday.

Foreign Minister Phil Goff said that the aircraft crew followed routine procedures on sighting the vessels, including photographing them.

“The information collected by the flight will be analysed by the relevant agencies and if necessary follow-up action will be taken if any infringements are detected,” he said.

Today’s surveillance flight was the first of the 2003/04 fishing season authorised by the Commission for Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

This is the seventh year that the RNZAF has undertaken surveillance flights in the Ross Sea, aimed at detecting and deterring illegal fishing.

“Demand for toothfish is such that considerable illegal fishing takes place in the Southern Ocean,” Mr Goff said.

“But so far the Ross Sea has been spared any illegal fishing, largely because of New Zealand’s surveillance of these waters.”