'Otago' returns to its fisheries duties

HMNZS Otago was heading south yesterday after making another brief return to Otago Harbour during its mission patrolling the Southern Ocean.

The Protector class offshore patrol vessel has been monitoring fishing activities in the region, which involves keeping an eye on the legal fishing fleet to ensure it is complying with the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) rules.

It includes boarding and inspecting vessels, and gathering evidence of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activity.

Otago's commanding officer, Lieutenant-commander Rob McCaw, said the vessel had made a scheduled return to Dunedin on Saturday to refuel and replace the ship's two fisheries officers with two newly rostered officers.

The vessel departed from the X/Y sheds again at 4pm yesterday.

''Our return was for logistical reasons.''

Otago had to return to Dunedin earlier this month for an unscheduled visit, following a ''medical incident'' on board.

Lt-cdr McCaw said the vessel had completed the first part of its mission and was now headed for Fiordland for ''multi-agency tasking'' which included making sure boats in the area had the correct fishing quotas and were not carrying any unwanted algae and pests to the area.

Otago would be patrolling the Fiordland area during the Christmas period, before returning to the Southern Ocean to continue CCAMLR patrols as far south as the Ross Sea, he said.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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