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Cyberbattle for the region

How does a 10-day birthday celebration happen across the entire Pacific without a single mention? The answer is Kurukuru, the region’s most comprehensive maritime surveillance partnership targeting illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing in Pacific waters. In the same way that the vessels they are watching sweep for tuna, maritime surveillance relies on a strong code of behind the scenes silence. Kurukuru marked its tenth year with the hum of computers and fingers on keyboards in lieu of a birthday jingle; candles and cake replaced by the colours of Google Earth in a room lit up by flat screens.

A decade ago when the first Kurukuru operation was launched by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, that effort relied on coordination, information-sharing, and communications technologies to help meet the resource challenge of keeping watch over tuna fishing activity in more than 30 million square kilometres of ocean. For Cook Islander Tuariki ‘Stu’ Henry, maritime policing over fisheries activity has gone through huge changes to ensure it keeps track of the vessels tracking tuna across our oceans. “The biggest change is technology, and using the internet has changed everything,” says Henry, “It’s all computers now, keeping your thinking cap on, and tracking for suspicious activity. The whole ball game has definitely changed.” Henry was part of the joint control and coordination centre for Kurukuru 2007, in Tonga. By 2009, the FFA Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre at the Honiara headquarters took up that nerve centre function.

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