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Successful Southern Ocean patrol

Successful Southern Ocean patrol

The Royal New Zealand Navy’s Offshore Patrol Vessel HMNZS OTAGO has successfully completed its first patrol of the season in the Southern Ocean - one of the world’s most challenging environments.

“It is important to New Zealand and the world that we protect the fragile marine environment of the Southern Ocean by helping to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing,” Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says.

New Zealand is a member of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which has responsibility for the management of marine resources in the waters around Antarctica, including fisheries.

The deployment of HMNZS OTAGO to the Southern Ocean means New Zealand-designated CCAMLR inspectors can conduct compliance checks at sea.

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman says this season’s operation went well, with OTAGO helping New Zealand CCAMLR inspectors carry out a number of boardings and inspections.

“Operating in the Southern Ocean, which sees some of the world’s most extreme weather, is certainly a challenge. The crew and the ship did a great job and are proud to be doing their part in safeguarding this unique and precious place.”

Primary Industries Minister David Carter says the inspections enforce fishing rules, but also check that those fishing in the Southern Ocean are not damaging the environment.

“There were some serious infringements found during the inspections and New Zealand will be seeking strong measures against violators,” he says.

HMNZS OTAGO was supported by Royal New Zealand Air Force P3-K Orion surveillance patrols during the two-week operation. The Defence Force has conducted aerial P3-K patrols of the Southern Ocean since the late 1990s.

“This is a significant contribution from New Zealand. Combining marine and aerial surveillance enables New Zealand to have a sustained presence in the area, which makes our patrols more effective at both detecting and deterring would-be illegal fishers,” Mr McCully says.

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