10 Feb 2015

US urged to allow fishing ban exemptions

3:17 pm on 10 February 2015

The United States has been urged to allow fishing companies to fish in grounds surrounding the proposed expanded Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.

Tri Marine International says it's asking for US-flagged vessels based in American Samoa, that supply local markets, to be exempt from the rules banning boats from the reserved area.

The formal request asks for purse seine vessels to fish between the existing boundaries and the outer limit of the United States' exclusive economic zone.

The company says the likelihood of harm to the marine area by allowing a small number of vessels to fish for tuna is very small, but if they were banned it could spell doom for the local tuna market.

Last year, President Barack Obama declared a war on illegal fishing, signalling he will use executive powers to bypass Congress to increase the size of the Monument by over seven times to more than a million square kilometres.

The federal government is expected to issue its final ruling later this year.