U.S. and 16 nations sign South Pacific Tuna Treaty over the weekend
The US State Department has confirmed a newly signed Multilateral Treaty on Fisheries with sixteen Pacific island nations is now in place for six year and signing of the document allows the continued operation of the US fleet in the region.
Signed Dec. 3 (Saturday) in Nadi, Fiji, the State Department says the continued operations of the fishing industry provide “important economic benefits” for American Samoa, according to a department statement over the weekend.
The Treaty, also known as the South Pacific Tuna Treaty, included initial amendments reached by both sides during a meeting in June this year. The State Department says revisions to the Treaty will generate higher economic returns from fisheries for Pacific Island countries, while supporting the continued viable operation of the U.S. fishing fleet in the region.
Additionally, the positive outcome reflects strong commitments to the Treaty by the parties and relevant stakeholders, including the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), administrator of the Treaty and the U.S. fishing industry. It is being called a further enhancement of political and economic ties between the United States and the Pacific Island region.
The parties have been negotiating amendments to modernize the Treaty and extend its terms of access since 2009. Based on the progress demonstrated by these Treaty amendments, the United States rescinded its decision to withdraw from the Treaty, which would otherwise have taken effect in January 2017.
“The revisions to the Treaty include the general terms of fishing access for the U.S. purse seine fishing vessels to waters under the jurisdiction of Pacific Island parties through 2022,” the State Department says.
It also says that greater flexibility in the fishing arrangements, as well as opportunities for new forms of commercial cooperation, will benefit both U.S. industry and the Pacific Island parties. For its commitment to the Treaty, the US government intends to continue providing $21 million annually pursuant to a related agreement to support economic development in the Pacific Islands region.
The amended Treaty also reinforces U.S. marine conservation interests in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, where over half of the world’s tuna are caught.
“The continued operation of the U.S. fishing industry also provides important economic benefits to...American Samoa, which played an active role on the U.S. delegation in recent years,” the statement says.
It also says that the continued presence of the U.S. purse seine fleet is important to the development of sustainable, well-managed fisheries in the region. U.S. fishing vessels operate according to the highest commercial standards, and are subject to strict enforcement by U.S. authorities of U.S. laws and regulations as well as regional conservation measures.
The Treaty framework also supports efforts to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, including through cooperation on maritime monitoring, control, and surveillance.