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Integrated Aerial Surveillance as part of the Australian Government Pacific Maritime Security Program
by Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) (Intergovernmental organization)
The Integrated Aerial Surveillance Program is one component of the Australian Governments Pacific Maritime Security Program (PMSP). The PMSP is part of the Defence Cooperation Program and consists of three components:
1. Replacement of the current Pacific Patrol Boat fleet with larger, more capable vessels, as well as continuation of in-country advisors and substantial training, sustainment and maintenance support,
2. Integrated aerial surveillance; and
3. Enhancements to regional coordination, particularly improved ability to collect, analyse, manage and share maritime security information across national agencies, as well as with neighbouring countries and regional coordination centres such as the FFA.
The overall cost of the PMSP to the Australian Government will be AUD 2 billion over a 30 year time frame.
PMSP is being implemented by the Australian Government to enhance maritime security with a particular focus on supporting monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) in Pacific Island Countries.

Through in depth cooperation and data sharing, and with the support of the Quadrilateral Defence Coordination Group (QUADS) of Australia, New Zealand, France and the USA; Pacific Island Countries have already made great strides towards the elimination of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) tuna fishing. This is of the utmost importance because of the enormous value of tuna to the region as protein, livelihoods, government revenue and general economic and social wellbeing. The Pacific Island Countries oversee the worlds largest tuna fishery, making the fight against IUU important on a global scale.
Despite the success achieved to date, the introduction of integrated aerial surveillance will constitute a big step forward in addressing several ongoing risks, including incursion by non-tuna vessels, unauthorised transhipment and violation of regional rules such as FAD closures.
The PMSP Aerial Surveillance component will be implemented by contracting civilian fixed wing aerial surveillance capability for deployment throughout the region. The aerial surveillance will be funded and contracted directly by the Australian Department of Defence, but will be under the operational control of the FFA through an MOU between FFA and Australia. FFA will deploy the asset(s) according to the priorities and permissions of each Pacific Island Country. Information collected by the aerial surveillance will be collated by the FFA Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre and shared amongst the FFA member countries and QUADS surveillance providers according to pre-agreed policies.
While the aerial surveillance will initially focus on fisheries MCS, there is a common desire amongst FFA, Australia and the beneficiaries to evolve the capability over time to also address other maritime risks that are important to the countries.
Progress reports
By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics
Type of commitment
  • Compliance, monitoring and enforcement
By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism
Type of commitment
  • Economic benefits from sustainable fisheries
Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of The Future We Want
Type of commitment
  • Development of necessary infrastructure and/or enforcement capabilities to comply with international law, as reflected in UNCLOS and as complemented by other ocean-related instruments
May 2018
First formal report against agreed performance indicators to Pacific Island Countries (and annually each May until 2047)
November 2017
Commencement of operations
October 2017
Administrative (contract for aerial surveillance provider and MOU between Australia and FFA) and Logistic (task requests, prioritisation plans, standard operating procedures etc) agreed and finalised.
October 2020
Formal review of initial phase of operations
Other, please specify
Australian Government Department of Defence funding. The PMSP components have a total value of ≈ USD 1.5 billion over the next 30 years. This includes ≈ USD 11.2 million per year for integrated aerial surveillance and ≈USD
Staff / Technical expertise
FFA staff: While the exact staffing model is still being explored, it is expected to require at least two additional officers in the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre, with an estimated cost of USD 300,000 per year.
In-kind contribution
In-kind contribution from the beneficiary countries is not possible to quantify but will be substantial through activities such as: Cooperative planning and tasking of the asset(s); Responsive tasking of their patrol boats; Necessary diplomatic clearances
In-kind contribution
The aerial surveillance would not provide such a degree of useable fisheries and broader intelligence without the existence of the FFA networks for data sharing and cooperation to receive, process and disseminate intelligence: Regional Fisheries Surveilla
Basic information
Time-frame: May 2017 - 2037
Australian Government Department of Defence
Ocean Basins
  • North Pacific
  • South Pacific
Beneficiary countries
Marshall Islands
New Zealand
Papua New Guinea
Solomon Islands
Other beneficaries
Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau All stakeholders in the global tuna fishing industry and market chain.
Contact information
James Movick, Director General, Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, james.movick@ffa.int, +67721124
Honiara, Solomon Islands
Other SDGs
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