The Forum Fisheries Agency welcomes Australian funding of aerial surveillance in FFA member states, reports Vanuatu Daily Digest.
FFA Director-General James Movick says the service will be available 365 days a year, Australia providing the appropriate aircraft for carrying the sensitive electronic equipment needed.
The scheme starts in July next year and will cost A$11 million a year. It will run for 30 years.
The Australian government has also announced the gift of a new patrol boat to assist the Vanuatu Mobile Force’s Maritime Wing with search and rescue and securing Vanuatu’s 668,220km2 Exclusive Economic Zone against illegal fishing and transnational crime.
The new vessel will be delivered in late 2018 at a cost of A$14.7 million (Vt1.2 billion).
The new steel-hulled patrol boat will be larger than RVS Tukoro at 39.5m long, with a beam of 8m and a loaded draft of 2.5m.
With a top speed of 20 knots, at its typical cruising speed of 12 knots, the vessel will have a 3000 nautical mile range. It will accommodate a 23-member crew, and have a 30-year service life.
Australia’s gifting of these larger, more capable replacement vessels builds on the success of the Pacific Patrol Boat Programme, which provided the RVS Tukoro.
The patrol boat programme is part of Australia’s Pacific Maritime Security Programme (PMSP), which aims to enhance maritime security co-operation across the South Pacific.
The new patrol boat will be built by defence shipbuilder Austal, which won the bid to build 19 or more new patrol boats for South Pacific nations under the PMSP.
The new patrol boats will also be maintained by Austral for the next seven years from Cairns, Queensland.