Navy to work with US Coastguard to protect fisheries

New Zealand's navy is to work with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) to protect Pacific regional fisheries.

Defence Minister Phil Goff said today that two Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) crew have joined the crew of the USCG vessel Walnut as part of a Pacific regional fisheries protection operation.

Mr Goff said the personnel exchange would be annual.

The RNZN officers be onboard the Walnut for almost a month as the vessel patrols the Economic Exclusion Zones of several Pacific states and territories.

It would participate in operation Kuru Kuru, an annual multilateral maritime surveillance operation focusing on detection and enforcement response to illegal maritime activity. Other countries involved included; Australia, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Cook Islands and France.

During the deployment the RNZN officers and USCG would develop protocols for sharing vessel sighting information between the RNZN, USCG, New Zealand Maritime Coordination Centre and the Fisheries Forum Agency to maximise the detection and identification of vessel engaged in illegal activity.