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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, May 2) – The National Fisheries Authority of Papua New Guinea has signed a milestone agreement with Japan’s Far Seas Purse Seine Fishing Association after 19 years following the successful conclusion of negotiations last month.

[PIR Editor's note: According to PIR news files, a disagreement on access fees proposed by the National Fisheries Authority led to the breakdown in negotiations in 1987 for Japanese fishing vessels to enter Papua New Guinea waters (See related story).]

Fisheries Minister Ben Semri says he is grateful the outcome of the negotiations resulted in yesterday’s signing of the bilateral access agreement which will bring US$3.2 million into Papua New Guinea.

Under the agreement, 30 Japanese purse seine fishing vessels will re-enter Papua New Guinea’s fishing zone to harvest 2.25 billion tons of mostly skip jack tuna.

Semri said the operation of the Japanese fishing vessels will set the platform for the two countries to work together in promoting sustainable fisheries management and development.

He said the major contributing factors towards the reaching of this bilateral agreement were the changing regional tuna management regimes adopted by parties to the Nauru agreement to manage purse seine fishing and the establishment of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

"I would like to see Papua New Guinea and Japan working together in regional and international forums to reach mutual goals for the sustainable management of fisheries in developing island countries, including Papua New Guinea," said Semri.

President of the Japanese association Kazuo Shima has expressed delight that the two countries can resume their fisheries relationship after 19 years.

"Japan is a leader of fish eating countries . . . we have abundant experience, knowledge and techniques on fisheries; by using these, we have already contributed to the development of fisheries of island countries in this region," said Shima. "We have confidence that we can contribute to a lot of development of Papua New Guinea fisheries."

The last annual fisheries fishing access agreement reached between Papua New Guinea and Japan was in 1987 but it was shelved due to differences between the two countries over the rate of return.

Papua New Guinea had asked for 6 per cent of the returns while Japan had offered a 5 percent.

Now both parties have agreed that the agreement would be for one year with the Japanese fishing company to get a total package instead of percentages in returns.

May 3, 2006

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