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The Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) is happy with the announcement by the New Zealand’s Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee for a naval vessel to be deployed to Fiji to help tackle illegal fishing in the region.
Chief of Staff Colonel Ratu Jone Kalouniwai said this was good news especially when two of the country’s naval vessels were under repair.
He said this was also part of the Defence Cooperation between the two countries.
Brownlee met his Fijian counterpart, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, at a South Pacific defence ministers’ meeting in Auckland to discuss issues including maritime surveillance.
He said an inshore patrol vessel will be deployed to Fiji for six months in May to combat the widespread problem.
According to Brownlee, the increase in illegal fishing vessels from Vietnam, also known as “blue boats”, required counter-action.
“The full scope of it is a bit hard to estimate because you don’t always see who is out there taking the fish illegally,” Brownlee explained, “and so we do need to make sure we help our near neighbours.”
He said Fijian authorities would be on board the vessel to work closely with the navy.
Col Kalouniwai said the arrival of the NZ naval was timely and thanked them for the help.
Fiji’s defence ties with regional powers were quickly restored after the elections in 2014 by which time Suva had consolidated its Look North policy and strengthened ties with the armed forces of several Asian countries.
The Defence officials also discussed disaster response, peacekeeping developments as well as women in armed forces.
SOURCE: FIJI SUN/PACNEWS
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