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Monthly mission nets two illegal fishing vessels

By Maripet L. Poso KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon, Aug. 30, 2010) - Palau’s lone patrol boat, PSS Remeliik, returned from Operation Island Chief - a week long air and sea surveillance operation coordinated by Forum Fisheries Agency.

[PIR editor’s note: The Palau State Ship is named after Palau’s first President, Haruo I. Remeliik.]

Remeliik arrived on Palau Wednesday night after regional maritime surveillance finished on Monday after surveying 12 million square kilometers of ocean.

Justice Minister Johnny Gibbons said that two illegal fishing vessels have been apprehended in international waters north-west of Palau.

Gibbons said since it happened outside of Palau’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the vessels were not escorted back to the country for appropriate action.

Three hundred and fifty fishing vessels were identified, 99 sighted, 20 boarded and just 2, both registered in the Philippines, found to be fishing illegally.

PSS Remeliik joined other nations to carry out regional marine surveillance to deter illegal fishing.

The operation involved Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Palau and the United States.

The surveillance covered respective EEZ’s with the assistance of U.S. Coast Guards and an aircraft.

[PIR editor’s note: According to the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, the establishment was created "to strengthen national capacity and regional solidarity so its 17 members can manage, control and develop their tuna fisheries..." Earlier this month, 33 Filipino fishermen were apprehended for illegal fishing and were deported. See story.]

The regional surveillance also included monitoring of high seas through surface and aerial patrols.

Gibbons said through a concerted effort among nations reduction of illegal activity at sea can be deterred.

Every month, Remiliik goes out to sea once or twice for routine maritime surveillance and fisheries protection.

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