Part 1: Introduction

Effectiveness of arrangements for co-ordinating civilian maritime patrols.

In this Part, we discuss:

The purpose of our audit

We carried out a performance audit to examine how effectively civilian maritime patrols are co-ordinated to support New Zealand's many maritime interests.

Maritime patrols involve patrolling New Zealand's exclusive economic zone (EEZ)1 and territorial waters, to help protect and maintain the country's maritime interests. These interests include maritime sovereignty and security, marine resource management, law enforcement, environmental protection, maritime safety, and external relations. New Zealand also provides maritime patrols to support some Pacific nations in protecting their maritime interests.

As well as protecting and maintaining maritime interests, maritime patrols gather information about the maritime domain and contribute to the awareness of activities occurring there.

Some of these activities pose risks to New Zealand. These risks include illegal fishing, drug trafficking, illegal immigration, and smuggling of contraband. Maritime patrols are an essential tool for detecting and deterring these activities. Countering these activities is important because they have high economic, social, and environmental costs. For example, about 9000 full-time equivalent jobs are associated with fishing and it is a large export earner (in 2008, fishing exports generated sales of about $1.3 billion). The Ministry of Fisheries' 2007/2008 annual report stated that the estimated value of illegal and unregulated fishing in the Pacific was about $500 million.

New Zealand's ocean area is the fourth largest in the world. Outer regions of New Zealand's EEZ lie about 500 nautical miles from mainland New Zealand. As well as the vast area and distances involved, responsibilities for patrols in the Pacific region and in the Southern Ocean also make patrolling a challenging activity.2

Patrol costs are substantial. In 2009/10, the Government budgeted about $277 million3 for a range of civilian and military maritime patrol activities.

New Zealand is a small country with few aircraft and ships available for maritime patrols. We have a large area of ocean to patrol, and maritime patrols have to meet the diverse needs of many government agencies. It is essential that patrol aircraft and ships are used as effectively as possible. We consider that the importance and range of New Zealand's maritime interests and the associated costs make it worthwhile to provide assurance that maritime patrols are co-ordinated and carried out effectively.

How we carried out the audit

Maritime patrolling is a whole-of-government activity that involves a co-ordinating unit, the providers of patrol aircraft and ships, and government agencies that use maritime patrols. Our audit focused on the co-ordinating unit, the National Maritime Co-ordination Centre (the NMCC). However, because the NMCC is a whole-of-government arrangement, our audit included the providers of aircraft and ships and the users of maritime patrols.

The main provider of the aircraft and ships used in patrols is the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).4

The NMCC's services are available to any government agency. A core group of six agencies make the most use of maritime patrols. In this report, we refer to this group of six as the "core agencies". The core agencies are:

  • the New Zealand Customs Service;
  • the Ministry of Fisheries;
  • the Department of Conservation;
  • the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade;
  • the New Zealand Police; and
  • Maritime New Zealand.

Appendix 1 sets out more information about the core agencies.

When we refer to NZDF, the core agencies, and the other government organisations with an interest in maritime patrols, such as the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (the DPMC), we use the term "other interested organisations". This term does not refer to the NMCC.

Part 2 provides more information about the NMCC and the other interested organisations.

Our audit examined the NMCC's governance and communication arrangements, patrol planning, and how the effectiveness of patrols is assessed. We expected:

  • governance arrangements, communication, and working relationships that supported the effective co-ordination of maritime patrols and information gathering;
  • planning systems for maritime patrols that were effective, providing for timely and relevant contributions from government agencies and the providers of patrol aircraft and ships;
  • systems for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of maritime patrols; and
  • information that was reviewed to ensure that maritime patrols were effective in supporting New Zealand's maritime interests.

We based our audit expectations on guidance in the following audit reports and good practice guides:

  • State Services Commission (2008), Factors for Successful Coordination – A Framework to Help State Agencies Coordinate Effectively;
  • Australian National Audit Office (2008), Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the Southern Ocean: Australian Customs Service; and
  • Office of the Auditor-General (2008), The Auditor-General's observations on the quality of performance reporting.

We examined relevant documentation of the NMCC and other interested organisations. We also interviewed staff from:

  • the NMCC;
  • the New Zealand Customs Service;
  • NZDF;
  • the Ministry of Fisheries;
  • the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade;
  • the Department of Conservation;
  • the New Zealand Police;
  • the DPMC; and
  • Maritime New Zealand.

What we did not audit

We did not examine how the core agencies assessed their individual maritime risks or whether the aircraft and ships used for patrols were the most appropriate for patrolling needs. We excluded the appropriateness of patrol aircraft and ships because several other organisations have already reviewed this area. We did not include maritime patrols conducted for military purposes.

1: New Zealand's EEZ is the area of sea and seabed that extends from 12 nautical miles to 200 nautical miles offshore. Within this EEZ, New Zealand has certain rights and obligations.

2: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (2001), Maritime Patrol Review, Wellington, page 7.

3: This figure is a combined total of the two main output classes associated with maritime patrols. These output classes are for aerial patrol ("maritime patrol forces") and surface patrol ("naval patrol forces"). The figure includes New Zealand Defence Force costs for training and military readiness activities. These activities are necessary for NZDF to maintain levels of capability expected by the Government.

4: Other providers are the New Zealand Customs Service, the New Zealand Police, and the Department of Conservation. See Figure 1 for more information.

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