NZ Air Force on a fisheries mission to Samoa

Wednesday March 12, 2008

APIA, Samoa - The Royal New Zealand Air Force flight P3K Orion arrived in Samoa yesterday afternoon after a day of patrolling the Pacific Ocean.

Lead by Wing Commander Logan Cudby the Air Force is on a mission to catch illegal fishing in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Samoa and other islands in the Pacific.

In an interview with Wing Commander Cudby, he said his crew of 13 which include two pilots, two flight engineers and two air warfare officers found eight vessels within the Samoan EEZ today.

Commander Cudby says that the Pacific is an easy place for poachers and illegal fishing, therefore any protection the Air Force can offer, they will provide.

"With the cooperation of Governments the monitoring of fisheries are getting better, everyone knows how important it is and we have a better chance of policing it now," he said.

In recent years over fishing has been a major issue for Pacific islands as commercial fishing deplete the oceans while the local and small scale fishermen are left empty handed.

According to Green Peace Pacific the tuna crisis in the Pacific is partly due to illegal fishing and the lack of monitoring in the Pacific.

However according to Commander Cudby, although there is consistent number of illegal fishing cases in the Pacific however the current methods put in place by the Forum Fisheries Association and the relevant Governments have proven effective and have contributed to more stringent monitoring of the Pacific ocean.

The Royal NZ Air Force have conducted the fishing patrol in the Pacific on a routine basis, Cudby says he has already been on more than 30 such patrols.

The Orion crew will be staying overnight in Samoa and will continue on to Rarontonga and Niue tomorrow.