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American purse seiners can continue fishing in Pacific grounds
2016-12-07 17:02:22 copyfrom： hits:
US ambassador in Fiji Judith Cefkin. (Photo: IIP State)
Wednesday, December 07, 2016, 01:50 (GMT + 9)
The United States and 16 Pacific islands have signed off on a six-year extension the decades old Multilateral Tuna Treaty, confirming American-flagged purse seiners access to lucrative Pacific fishing grounds.
The amendment, putting an end to seven years of often troubled negotiations that almost broke down early in 2016 when the US government formally notified Pacific Island governments of its intention to withdraw from the treaty, was settled at the annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Nadi.
The treaty gives the US purse seine fishing fleet access to the region and provides both an industry payment of USD 45 million per year and US government fisheries aid of USD 21 million annually to all members of thePacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) who signed the agreement.
It is calculated the western and central Pacific tuna fishery is valued at over USD 5 billion annually.
Referring to the reached agreement, ambassador Judith Cefkin stressed it will help to build a more solid and sustainable basis for long-term cooperation and praised the efforts of the FFA in securing the agreement.
For his part, the US State Department head John Kerry pointed out the revisions to the Treaty will generate higher economic returns from fisheries for Pacific Island countries, while supporting the continued viable operation of the US fishing fleet in the region.
“The positive outcome reflects strong commitments to the Treaty by the parties and relevant stakeholders, including the FFA and the US fishing industry, and a further enhancement of political and economic ties between the United States and the Pacific Island region,” Kerry said in a press statement.
The revisions to the Treaty include the general terms of fishing access for the US purse seine fishing vessels to waters under the jurisdiction of Pacific Island parties through 2022.
“The US government intends to continue providing USD 21 million annually pursuant to a related agreement to support economic development in the Pacific Island region,” Kerry added.
The Pacific Island parties to the Treaty include 16 members of the FFA: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Republic of Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Republic of Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu, and Republic of Vanuatu.
Both FFA general director James Movick and Cefkin said the treaty extension recognizes changes in the western Pacific fishery and the changing nature of the relationship with the US.
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