A tuna purse seiner. (Photo: NOAA)
Tuna agreement reached with US
Wednesday, July 04, 2012, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
The US has reached a deal on a financial package with Pacific Island countries that are parties to the Tuna Treaty for US vessels to fish in the region.
Pacific leaders had negotiated to obtain more access fees for fishing days and fewer days of fishing overall.
The US will triple the amount it pays for access to fish for tuna in Pacific waters, doling out USD 63 million dollars a year over the next 10 years.
"The agreement reached meets or exceeds the benchmarks articulated by Pacific Island Party Leaders over the course of negotiations by providing USD 63 million annually to the Pacific Island Parties over the next 10 years, for a total of USD 630 million," the US Embassy communicated in a statement, Fiji Times reports.
As well, the agreement consists of:
- A payment per vessel day that is more than 50 per cent higher than the USD 5,000 per day regional benchmark price established by Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA);
- A 17 per cent return on the value of the fish caught by US vessels licensed under the treaty under current conditions, which exceeds the 10 per cent average rate of return desired by Pacific Island Leaders;
- "Fair compensation for fishing opportunities in the waters under the jurisdiction of non-PNA States."
While before Pacific Island nations gave away rights to their fish for paltry sums of money, these countries are now taking advantage of their power over their exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and negotiated a much more beneficial treaty. Also helpful is the fact that these nations have maintained solidarity and no members have broken off and cut deals on the side, Radio New Zealand International reports.
Fiji’s Director of Fisheries Sanaila Naqali explained that Fiji could make revenues worth up to USD 700,000 per year if it inks a fishing deal with the US. The more US vessels Fiji lets fish in its waters, the more revenue Fiji can obtain, he said.
Naqali said the deal has not yet been finalised and that Cabinet would use that money on fisheries projects.
The treaty was negotiated every three years, he said, and the annual amount of USD 63 million was for buying access into the Pacific region for fishing purposes. Countries like Korea and Japan were willing to pay the same or more than the US for this privilege.
The US Embassy said it was collaborating closely with the Pacific Island Parties to settle on an extension of the treaty beyond the current period which ends next June.
By Natalia Real
Photo Courtesy of FIS Member National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA/NMFS