July 09, 2012

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press

July 3, 2012 Pohnpei, FSM-A spokesperson from the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji said today that significant advancements have been made in Tuna Treaty negotiations between the U.S. and the sixteen member nations of the Pacific Island Forum.

Since 1988, the United States' tuna purse seine fleet has operated in the Western and Central Pacific under the terms of a Treaty with the sixteen independent States of the Pacific Forum. This mutually beneficial Treaty arrangement has provided unique access to Pacific fisheries for the U.S. tuna fleet and has served as a vehicle for the Pacific Island Parties to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues, U.S. Government economic development funding and assistance with sustainable fisheries management and combating illegal fishing. The United States is working closely with the Pacific Island Parties to negotiate an extension of this important Treaty beyond the current period, ending in June 2013.

A press release from the U.S. Embassy said that the central issue in the negotiations on the Tuna Treaty has been the level fishing opportunities afforded to the U.S. purse-seine fleet in waters under the jurisdiction of the Pacific Island Parties and the overall financial package. On June 22, at the most recent negotiations in Auckland, New Zealand, the United States and the Pacific Island Parties reached agreement on this critical issue.

"The agreement reached meets or exceeds the benchmarks articulated by Pacific Island Party Leaders over the course of negotiations by providing:

"This agreement on the overall financial package is a significant advancement in the negotiations, and creates a strong foundation on which the United States and our Pacific Island partners can continue to build a prosperous and sustainable future for the peoples of the Pacific region.

"The United States looks forward to working with the Pacific Island Parties to address remaining technical issues and to reaching an early agreement to extend the Treaty," the press release concluded.