NZ, Britain to combat illegal Antarctic fishing


An agreement has been signed between New Zealand and Britain that will help combat illegal fishing in Antarctic waters.

The signing coincides with the first visit by a Royal Navy ship to the Ross Sea in 80 years.

For the past six weeks, Royal Navy ship the HMS Protector and her 90 crew have been patrolling the frigid waters of the Ross Sea, searching for vessels illegally fishing for Patagonian Toothfish.

"It was a fantastic experience, something very different for us,” says HMS Protector’s executive officer Commander Trefor Fox.

Cmdr Fox says during the deployment they spotted 12 fishing vessels and boarded four, but none of them were operating illegally.

The 90 metre-long ice breaker is now in Lyttelton, providing an opportunity for an agreement to be signed that will see better collaboration New Zealand and Britain in combatting illegal fishing in Antarctic waters.

"New Zealand's been patrolling the Ross Sea for a number of years so the UK's coming to strengthen and build on that partnership to try and stamp it out in the Southern Ocean so we don't see it just moving locations," says head of the polar regions department at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Jane Rumble.

Lieutenant Commander Ross Hickey is with the New Zealand Navy and has spent the past six weeks aboard HMS Protector and says today's agreement is a positive step.

"It’s not just a mission New Zealanders should be engaging in themselves, it's fantastic to have the cooperation of another vessel particularly a Royal navy vessel," says Lt Cmdr Hickey.

The ship will be open to the public on Sunday.

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