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U.S. House Subcommittee examines Amata’s South Pacific Tuna Treaty Act

Congresswoman Amata in hearing with others
Source: Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata’s D.C. staff

Washington, D.C. — Uifa’atali Amata took part in examination of a bill she sponsored, with Congressman Ed Case (D-HI) as the original cosponsor, the South Pacific Tuna Treaty Act, H.R. 1792, a bipartisan effort to congressionally direct full implementation of the South Pacific Tuna Treaty, as negotiated among the U.S. and Pacific nations.

The bill amends the South Pacific Tuna Treaty Act of 1988 to reflect amendments to the Treaty adopted in 2016 and to which the Senate provided overwhelming bipartisan support for advice and consent to ratification in 2022. Thursday’s legislative hearing by the Natural Resource Committee’s Subcomittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries is a key step to advancing the bill. Congresswoman Amata highlighted the support of local fishermen to the Subcommittee and submitted their letter to the official record of the hearing.

“Congress takes seriously its roles of oversight, and directing this full implementation of U.S. tuna agreements in the Pacific to the benefit of our fleet,” said Congresswoman Amata. “I appreciate this important testimony, and the letter of support, once again clarifying the unnecessarily onerous challenges facing U.S. tuna production, despite its value as a healthy and traditionally affordable food source, and the fleet’s value to food security priorities.”

Testifying was William Gibbons-Fly, Executive Director, American Tunaboat Association. He noted that those owning and operating the U.S. flag tuna purse seine vessels in the Pacific Ocean under the South Pacific Tuna Treaty, are the last true “distant water fishing fleet” under the U.S. flag, describing them as “multi-generational, family-owned businesses with along and storied history as an important part of the U.S. fishing industry.”

“Passage of the amendments in H.R. 1792 is vitally important for the U.S. fleet,”
 testified Mr. Gibbons-Fly. “The 2016 amendments to the Treaty represent years of hard-fought negotiations to improve the operational conditions and flexibility for the fleet, some of which can only be realized after the necessary amendments to the implementing legislation are in place.”

He continued, “The governments that are party to the Treaty, including the United States, have been applying many of the Treaty amendments provisionally under a Memorandum of Understanding adopted concurrently with the amendments themselves. However, in the absence of U.S. amendments to the implementing legislation, key provisions of the domestic regulatory regime continue to reflect aspects of the Treaty prior to the 2016 amendments being adopted. As a result, since 2017 the fleet has been operating in a kind of ‘limbo,’ with conflicts between certain operational conditions in the amended Treaty, and those reflected under the domestic regulatory regime.”

He cited the 2016 removal of the definition of “Treaty area” and modifications to “Licensing Area” that under the 2016 agreement would allow U.S. fishing in high seas areas but are still restricted due to the law’s outdated wording. “H.R. 1792 resolves this and other conflicts, and its passage will provide the fleet with greater operational flexibility, clarity and security,” he said.

The U.S. tuna purse seine fleet has been rapidly reduced in just a few years from 34 vessels to 13 vessels, facing increased regulation, reduced access, and more competition especially from Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Gibbons-Fly stated that, “maintaining an active and viable U.S. tuna purse seine fleet operating under the Treaty in the strategically important central Pacific Ocean is a critical counterbalance to China’s growing influence across the region.”


Six bills Congresswoman Amata cosponsored were passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) as part of a slate of a dozen bills voted on Wednesday for consideration by the full House of Representatives.

“I cosponsored these bills to strengthen the Pacific region, helping to ensure mutual defense and stability among Pacific partners that secure the Pacific region, as well as fight the problem of tuberculosis worldwide, establish clear U.S. policies regarding Iran, and support an American wrongfully detained by the Venezuelan regime,” said Congresswoman Amata.

Amata-cosponsored legislation:

H.R. 1776, End Tuberculosis Now Act, To prevent, treat, and cure tuberculosis globally;

H.R. 4619, AUKUS Submarine Transfer Authorization Act, To authorize the sale of Virginia Class submarines to Australia in support of the trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and for other purposes;

H.R. 4716, KOALA Act, To amend the Arms Export Control Act in support of Australia and the AUKUS partnership;

H.R. 4715, BRITS Act, To amend the Arms Export Control Act in support of the United Kingdom and the AUKUS partnership;

H.R. 3152, Fight CRIME Act, To impose sanctions with respect to countries, individuals, and entities that engage in any effort to acquire, possess, develop, transport, transfer, or deploy Iranian missiles and related goods and technology, including materials and equipment, and for other purposes;

H.Res. 578, Calling for the immediate release of Eyvin Hernandez, a United States citizen and Los Angeles County public defender, who was wrongfully detained by the Venezuelan regime in March 2022.

In addition, the following bills were also passed by HFAC:

H.R. 4725, AUKUS Oversight and Accountability Act, To conduct oversight and accountability of the State Department’s implementation of AUKUS, and for other purposes;

H.R. 4517, Ensuring Voluntary Actions are Compensated Act of 2023, To require the Secretary of State to submit a plan for the reimbursement of personal funds expended to evacuate American citizens, American lawful permanent residents, and Afghan allies from Afghanistan, and for other purposes;

H.R. 4691, Iran Sanctions Relief Review Act of 2023, To provide for congressional review of actions to terminate or waive sanctions imposed with respect to Iran;

H.R. 1456, SCREEN Act, To limit the use of funds for the production of films using assets of the Department of State under certain circumstances, and for other purposes;

H.R. 4741, To require the development of a strategy to promote the use of secure telecommunications infrastructure worldwide, and for other purposes;

(A bill number yet to be assigned), to require the imposition of sanctions and other measures relating to the Russian oil price cap policy, and for other purposes.