The Australian government funded Pacific Maritime Security Program (PMSP) will conduct test flights in Palau as part of the aerial surveillance component of the multimillion program that will enhance the Pacific region’s capabilities to combat illegal fishing.

TSC Cessna arrived on Palau on February 21, according to an email response from the Australian Defence Media spokesperson.


The technology that is equipped in the aerial surveillance program will be in conjunction will the existing Pacific Patrol Boat Program of Australia in the region.

The new program “will provide support targeted, intelligence-driven maritime patrols and enhance the capacity of Pacific Island nations to protect their own resources.”

The PMSP is a 30- year program and the implementation of aviation and non-aviation processes for aerial surveillance commenced in December 2017.

The first test flights   were conducted in FSM and after Palau it will run the same preparatory tests in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI).

Initial flights are planned across the region to assess communication and surveillance processes with the Fisheries Forum Agency (FFA) and patrol boats.

The PMSP is also providing patrol vessels to the region to replace the ageing Pacific Class patrol boats. Palau is due to get a replacement for PSS Remeliik by 2020.

“When fully implemented, the PMSP aerial surveillance component will provide up to 1400 hours of annual aerial surveillance hours across the Western and Central Pacific region through two dedicated aircraft permanently based in the Pacific,” the defence media stated.

FFA Director General James Movick in a phone interview last week said the reach of the aerial surveillance will also go beyond protecting the island nations’ fisheries.

This surveillance is not just for fisheries, same tools, same aircraft can also be used for broader surveillance activities,” Movick said.

He said it can also be used for surveillance in curbing human trafficking, drug smuggling and fishermen robbing the reefs and other illegal activities at sea.  (Bernadette H. Carreon) [/restrict]