In February 2010 foillowing a review of the management of the shared highly migratory pelagic fisheries resources in the waters of the Atlantic UK Overseas Territories (UKOT’s) of Ascension Island, St Helena and Tristan da Cunha by MRAG, it was recommeded that a patrolling presence with a focus on fisheries, in addition to the ad hoc patrolling of the Royal Naval be made available for all three territories. MRAG provided and trained a fisheries officer for a tour of duty on a fisheries protection vessel chartered for this specific purpose to visit Ascension Island, St Helena and Tristan da Cunha—the Atlantic UK Overseas Territories. The fishery officers onboard the FPV were empowered by local legislation to carry out at sea inspections in all three zones. Activities were to be limited to the exclusive economic zones around each UKOT and the fishery officers would have no high seas jurisdictionto undertake inspections under the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) scheme of inspection.
Pre-patrol planning was carried out in London and in Stanley (Falkland Islands) prior to the start of patrolling. Careful planning and targeting of the FPV’s activities was essential due to the constraints of time and distances involved and particularly the dispersed geographical position of the three EEZs and therefore passage times and distances between them also needed to be considered.
The fisheries officer planned a series of fisheries patrols with the local fisheries staff and the vessel’s master for each UK OT and trained local fisheries officers where possible in patrol planning, boarding and inspection procedures, collection of evidence and requirements for court proceedings whilst undertaking tours in each fisheries zone.