90 million US tuna treaty signed inspite of Kiribati Deviation
US 90million dollar Tuna deal intact despite reports of Kiribati rift.
The Forum Fisheries Agency says an historic 90 million US dollar deal between Pacific island countries and the United States tuna fleet remains intact.
This is despite reports a rift had developed due to Kiribati allegedly selling its fishing days to China and Taiwan and banning boats from other nations.
The FFA's deputy Director General, Wez Norris, says the media reports have been grossly sensationalised.
He spoke with Koroi Hawkins about the importance of the recent deal to tuna rich nations of the Pacific.
WEZ NORRIS:The agreement that was reached between the Pacific Island countries and the United States, was an arrangement for 2015 which allows a continued high level of fishing access, by US flag vessels, to the waters of the Pacific Island countries. So essentially, under the arrangement, the US vessels have access to 8,300 fishing days that the fleet can use. In return for a, a combined government and industry payment of 90 million dollars.
KOROI HAWKINS: And I understand it was hailed as a good deal and a lot of cooperation coming from all the countries, although they are individual countries, with their own decisions as to their resources. But there was one deviation in terms of Kiribati. If you can just explain, their decision.
WN: These types of collective negotiations are always difficult. Because each individual party needs to balance off its, its regional cooperative obligations and its own national interests. The issue that we encountered at the, at the final negotiation session recently in Honolulu, was a decision by Kiribati, to offer up less fishing days to the treaty than it has been able to in the past. And all that meant was that the, all of the Pacific island countries and, including Kiribati had to sit down and redesign the package, that they were able to offer to the US. And from our perspective, that was an excellent example of regional cooperation. Because the countries came up with an offer that in the end, after some some fairly difficult negotiation, was acceptable to the US.
KH: How important is tuna and the interest that the international community has in tuna, for the Pacific island nations. Some who, of whom are very small?
WN: Tuna is of the absolute, utmost importance to the Pacific island countries. For many of them, it is the only natural resource that they have at their disposal. That they can then use to tailor economic and social outcomes for self reliance and development, over the years to come. For many of the Pacific Island countries, the licensing of foreign fishing vessels to come into their waters and access their tuna resources is the most significant contribution to government revenue that they have. And that is why it is very important to use tools such as the vessel day scheme, that I explained and also this treaty with the united states, to maximise the level of revenue that each country can get. That they can then invest in roads and schools and hospitals and so on.
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