Islands continue campaign for fair share of fisheries takings


Island nations in the Western Pacific have once again reiterated their demand for a greater share of the takings from the United States’ tuna fishing industry, which fishes in an area equivalent to the size of the Indian subcontinent in their waters.<!--more-->Though US negotiators acknowledge that changes are required to the 23-year-old treaty, it is unlikely that major changes will be made any time soon. The 1987 Multilateral Fisheries Treaty with the States in the Forum Fisheries Agency between the US and Pacific Island Parties was to run for an initial period of 5 years. It has since been extended twice the latest extension expiring in 2013.

It sets parameters and terms and conditions for the US tuna purse seine fleet to fish in Central and Western Pacific Ocean, including waters under the jurisdiction of the Pacific Island Parties. Some US$21 million is paid annually to the islands to allow up to 40 American purse seiners to fish.

The Pacific tuna industry is estimated to be worth at least US$ 2 billion. Non-US companies pay far higher fees for fishing in the same waters, which is also a sore point in the commercial fishing industry.

Last December, the US declined to sign up to conservation measures taken by eight Pacific islands nations to limit long line fishing for tuna, citing the possibility of accelerating the extinction of certain species of the fish.