Probationary Constable Cancy Maro at Avatiu Harbour yesterday. She was part of the surveillance operation. Photo: MELINA ETCHES. 20091411
Te Kukupa maritime police force have returned from a maritime surveillance operation ensuring that non-essential vessels are forbidden from entering Cook Islands ports during this Covid period.
The crew worked alongside the Ministry of Marine Resources in a surveillance operation called Island Chief.
Police Commissioner, Maara Tetava said the Maritime Police Division remains at the frontline of maritime surveillance activities. Tetava said the police patrol boat Te Kukupa has a dedicated, highly skilled and trained team.
He said the team uses intelligence through their interagency cooperation with Ministry of Marine Resources, Customs, Agriculture, Ports Authority and Health to help respond not only to fisheries related risks, but other threats like transnational crime and border security issues.
Two new female officers Probationary Constables Vaai Basnet and Cancy Maro joined the crew where they were introduced to fisheries surveillance work extending beyond Cook Islands’ Exclusive Economic Zone.
“The Maritime Police Division is recognised as a high performing unit, so from time to time our Pacific neighbours will request that we participate in joint patrols, or assist in the surveillance of their EEZs,” Tetava said
He said during this operation they included Niue in their patrol plan, to conduct surveillance and at-sea boarding and inspection activities as well.
Marine Resources secretary Pamela Maru said stringent border controls have been a necessity in response to Covid-19.
She said this has also created challenges for them in undertaking some of their monitoring work, making aerial and maritime surveillance operations much more valuable during this time.
Preventative action has been taken by the Cook Islands' Government to ensure the country remains a Covid–free zone, including sea port entry being restricted to freight, cargo and fuel vessels only, and all other non-essential vessels prohibited from entering any Cook Islands port.
Maru said the ministry’s approach towards continuing and strengthening the country’s capability to secure its maritime domain includes regional cooperation and using innovative methods and technologies for monitoring, control and surveillance.
Meanwhile, the police maritime team are looking forward to their new Guardian Class Patrol Boat replacement vessel in June 2022.
“This new vessel will extend the range of patrol capabilities, and is fitted with the latest electronic surveillance equipment,” said Police Commissioner Maara Tetava.
Three young men were inducted into the Police Service last week and will be assigned to the Maritime Division as crew for Te Kukupa.