Parties to Nauru Agreement Oppose New U.S. Tuna Fishing Rules

Violates conservation measures for high seas approved by WCPFC

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, June 13, 2016) – A new United States Government fishing regulation that went into effect late last month, violates a conservation measure for high seas fishing approved last year by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries (WCPFC), said Dr Transform Aqorau, the Chief Executive of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) today, 13 May.

He said this new U.S fishing rule seeks to allow its purse seine fleet to evade the WCPFC measure.

“The US government is combining 558 fishing days from its exclusive zones in American Samoa and Guam with the WCPFC limit of 1,270 to increase to 1,828 the number of days American purse seiners can fish on the high seas.”

Dr Aqorau said by issuing this new rule, the US is saying it can take the 1270 day limit by WCPFC and combine it with its American Samoa and Guam days to fish anywhere.

“This is a superpower abusing a measure agreed to in December 2015.  They are trying to find ways to evade limits set by WCPFC and avoid application of the Vessel Day Scheme by fishing outside of Pacific Island nation waters.”

The Vessel Day scheme is the management mechanism through which PNA regulates and limits fishing by purse seiners in the exclusive economic zones of its eight member nations.

WCPFC’s Conservation and Management Measure 2015-001 endorsed by member nations including the United States last December, sets fishing limits for each flag state’s fishing fleet.  And the U.S purse seine fleet was limited to 1,270 fishing days on the high seas by CMM 2015-001.

However, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service issued rule 2016-0038 providing the U.S purse seine fleet with a limit of 1,828 days for the western Pacific high seas area, that was effective on 25 May.

Dr Aqorau said the U.S announcement that it is increasing the high seas allotment of fishing days for its purse seine fleet comes as the US government and its purse seine industry are struggling to negotiate an extension of a fishing treaty that has governed U.S flagged vessel access to the western Pacific since the late 1980s.

The U.S had announced earlier this year its plan to withdraw from the treaty in January 2017, and ongoing negotiations have failed to result in a new agreement.

The next negotiating session is between the U.S and 17 Pacific islands nations is expected to be held in Auckland this month on June 20-24.

Dr Aqorau said it is unacceptable for the U.S government or any other flag state to unilaterally increase its fishing day limit on the high seas above the limit established by WCPFC.

The Party to the Nauru Agreement are made up of eight Pacific Islands that control the worlds largest sustainable tuna purse seine fisheries supplying 50 percent of worlds skipjack tuna including Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, PNG, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

Matangi Tonga Magazine
Copyright © 2016 Matangi Tonga. All Rights Reserved

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I'm sorry to see my country overrun its agreement with WCPFC. Might does not make right. Does our NOAA have no interest in protecting the skipjack population and the well-being of the Pacific Island nations?

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