JAPAN INVOLVES FFA IN TUNA DISPUTE WITH SOLOMON ISLANDS

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (February 25, 1999 - PACNEWS/SIBC)---Japan has accused the Solomon Islands Government and the Forum Fisheries Agency of preempting future talks on highly migratory fish stocks in the region.

Japan does not approve of the agency's plan to have a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) installed on foreign deep sea fishing vessels as part of national tuna management plans being adopted by individual island countries. The Japanese Embassy in Honiara has announced that the Government and FFA must respect Article 64 of the Law of the Sea Convention.

The article stipulates that highly migratory fish stocks should be managed through cooperation between coastal states and deep-sea fishing nations in the formation of an international organization.

The embassy said the imposition of the VMS has preempted any future multi-lateral, high-level talks to establish such an organization, adding that it does not agree to the use of VMS for security reasons, and because it is unfair to non-English speaking countries.

Talks between the Solomons Government and the Japanese Tuna Association broke down early this year over the VMS issue. Since then, the Solomons Government has not renewed the licenses of many Japanese deep-sea fishing boats.

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