Solomons PM: No Fishing Deals Without Vessel Day Scheme

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Over $13.5 million earned during 2011 for ‘fishing days’

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Sept. 6, 2012) – Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo yesterday warned the Solomon Islands will not sign-on to any fisheries partnership agreements that do not contain the Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) arrangement.

"VDS is non-negotiable and a prescribed condition to any fisheries agreements that Solomon Islands will have with both multilateral and bilateral partners and distance fishing nations," Mr. Lilo said.

He underlined the importance of the VDS to any fisheries agreements that Solomons will sign-on to in the future following recent talks with the European Union, where the European Union declined to accommodate the VDS arrangement in a proposed new fisheries partnership agreement.

Mr. Lilo said the VDS is a significant component of the country’s tuna industry and the economy and there will be no agreements without its inclusion.

"The VDS has made a huge difference to the country’s earnings in the fisheries sector and its return is far better than what the state owned Solomon Taiyo earned for the country or what was generated through access fishing fees."

Mr. Lilo said he would continue to defend his government’s policy and is unmoved by threats to throw Solomon Islands out of any fishing agreements because of its support for VDS.

He said there are already a precedent being set as VDS has been reflected in the new U.S multilateral treaty and other bilateral fishing nations have signed up to agreements that include VDS arrangements.

The country earned more than SB$100 million [US$13.5 million] last year by selling days under the VDS.

VDS is a scheme where vessel owners can purchase and trade days fishing at sea in places subject to the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA).

The purpose of the VDS is to constrain and reduce catches of target tuna species, and increase the rate of return from fishing activities through access fees paid by Distant Water Fishing Nations (DWFNs).

The total allocation of fishing days is set and apportioned between Pacific Island members for one-year periods up to three years in advance.

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