Australian Defence Force completes maritime surveillance in Tonga waters

The Australian Defence Force says it has successfully completed Operation Solania − its latest maritime surveillance mission aimed at detecting and deterring illegal fishing activities in the waters of Samoa and Tonga.

The aerial patrols covered around 470-thousand square kilometres of the Samoan and Tongan exclusive economic zones, identifying seven vessels of interest, and documenting suspicious activities.

Defence Force Commander in the South-West Pacific, Major General Scott Winter, said the support was a major part of Australia's longstanding commitment to maritime security.

Major-General Winter says illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing not only threatens the delicate balance of marine ecosystems, but also undermines the livelihoods of legitimate fishermen and the economic stability of coastal communities.