MARITIME security during a time of global pandemic was one of they key topics discussed at the recent Joint Heads of Pacific Security event.

Delegates from Pacific Island nations’ security agencies attended the gathering, mostly via online.

Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell AO DSC, Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece P Kershaw APM, and Australian Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram APM, joined security leaders from 24 nations and territories, and five regional bodies for the event.

As well as maritime security, others themes included the collective challenge of COVID-19 in border security, maritime security, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell reflected on common security challenges.

“COVID-19 has presented a number of challenges to maritime and border security efforts, which have affected nations in various ways,” General Campbell said.

“The impacts of the pandemic were not made any easier by the devastation of Tropical Cyclone Harold and the Australian Defence Force was proud to work with Fiji and Vanuatu in their humanitarian and disaster relief responses.”

AFP Commissioner Reece P Kershaw said the Australian Federal Police remained closely engaged with Pacific policing.

“Police across the Pacific are part of our policing family. Our strong and enduring partnership will ensure our region’s national security interests are safeguarded today and well into the future,” Commissioner Reece Kershaw said.

General Yamazaki Koji, chief of staff, Japan Joint Staff took part in the Joint Heads of Pacific Security event 2020. Credit: ABF

ABF Commissioner Michael Outram said the Australian Border Force was pleased to work closely with law enforcement agencies.

“Now more than ever, our ability to work collaboratively will be vital as we strive towards common goals such as regional security maintenance,” Commissioner Outram said.

“As we move into recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, our borders remain critical national assets to protect and manage well.”

Japan and the United States joined the event for the first time along with representatives from the Oceania Customs Organisation, Pacific Immigration Development Community, Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police, Forum Fisheries Agency and Pacific Island Forum.

The event is part of the Australian government’s so called Pacific Step-up.