One of Australia’s richest men, Andrew Forrest, has funded a demonstration in Palau on how unmanned drones could help combat illegal fishing in the Pacific.
Mining magnate and chairman of the Minderoo Foundation, Mr Forrest visited the tiny Pacific nation earlier this year.
He is helping Palau’s President Tommy Remengesau to better police its Exclusive Economic Zones of the Pacific (EEZ).
Palau has only one patrol boat to cover its economic zone which is roughly the size of France.
This makes it a prime target for illegal trawlers.
An unmanned drone was launched into the sky to demonstrate how drones could be used to improved surveillance in the economic zone.
President Remengesau wants to ban all commercial fishing in Palau’s EEZ.
He says the drones will be able to get the evidence needed to prosecute unlicensed fishing vessels stealing tuna from Palau’s waters.
“All this information is exactly what you need in order to find somebody guilty: Where is the location of the violation? What’s the name of the ship?” he said.
The drones were brought to Palau by Australian-based company, Aerosonde, which has its headquarters in Victoria.
The cost of the demonstration was paid for by Mr Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation.
President Remengesau expressed concern about the state of Palau’s tuna stocks, saying the tuna fishery continues to dwindle.
He says negotiations are continuing as to how a fully operational drone surveillance system could be paid for.
The president says he wants his people trained in how to operate the equipment and is certain the drones will help protect the wealth of his nation’s fisheries.