U.S. NEGOTIATING NEW PACIFIC FISHERIES TREATY

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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, Mar. 10) - United States and Pacific fisheries officials are expected to sign a ten-year treaty here in Majuro worth at least $210 million to island members of the Forum Fisheries Agency.

The agreement to be signed is the third extension of a treaty with the U.S. government originally started in 1988 that allows up to 45 American purse seiners to fish annually in the 200 mile exclusive economic zones of all FFA nations with the exception of Papua New Guinea, whose waters are being closed in the new extension.

More than 40 officials from the region, and about a dozen U.S. government and tuna industry representatives began arriving in Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands, at the weekend for the 15th annual consultations between Pacific islands and the U.S.

"The new treaty extension will be signed Wednesday evening during the consultations," said Doreen deBrum-Jurelang, the Marshall Islands undersecretary for Asia and Pacific Affairs, who is heading her country’s delegation to the talks.

The treaty provides for U.S. payments of $21 million annually, up $3 million a year from the current treaty that expires in June, deBrum-Jurelang said. The package also includes other training and cooperation opportunities, she said.

The U.S. payments are divided according to where fish are caught in the region. "The treaty has been operational for the last 14 years and it is estimated that a total of about $221 million has been distributed among FFA member countries during that time," she said.

She said that both Pacific islands and the U.S. government and its tuna industry have benefited greatly from the long-term treaty. "But the more important achievement made by the treaty is the enhancement of regional cooperation between Pacific island parties and the United States," she added.

While Papua New Guinea’s waters are being temporarily closed to American fishermen in the new treaty, Solomon Islands’ waters, closed in the current treaty, will be open from June 2003.

The treaty consultations start Tuesday and end Friday in Majuro. Much of the week, aside from the treaty signing on Wednesday, is devoted to technical reports by fisheries experts, deBrum-Jurelang said.

March 10, 2003

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com 

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