2 Dec 2015

US trying to renege on Pacific fishing agreement, says PNA

8:45 pm on 2 December 2015

The Parties to the Nauru Agreement says the United States is trying to renege on an agreement it signed with Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency members in August.

The Marshalls fisheries department director Glen Joseph said he is happy to see that the purse seine fishing industry has begun taking action to modify fishing gear to reduce by catch of bigeye tuna. Here, a purse seiner off loads its tuna catch in Majuro.

The Vessel Day Scheme for fishing contributes vast sums of money to Pacific economies. Photo: RNZI / Giff Johnson

Under the Vessel Day Scheme the US fleet was given 5,700 fishing days, but it is now asking the PNA to take back 2000 saying it cannot pay the 89.2 million US dollar deal it signed.

But PNA members want the deal to stay for 2016, with Tokelau's fishing advisor, Stan Crothers, saying 98 percent of the territory's revenue comes from the Vessel Day Scheme -- three quarters of that from the US.

The PNA's chief executive, Transform Aqorau, says there needs to be flexibility within the treaty as it's hard to operate arrangements with a scheme that operates on market conditions.

If the deal falls through, non-PNA nations including Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu could benefit, and receive a 150-thousand dollar payment plus the chance to benefit from US vessels in their waters.