10 Aug 2015

Pacific tuna deal could harm future deals

4:29 pm on 10 August 2015

A fishing deal worth 89 million US dollars has been reached between Pacific nations and the United States but officials are at loggerheads over renewing the deal long-term.

Representatives from the US and Pacific governments met in Australia to negotiate renewing the 1988 South Pacific Tuna Treaty which allows US vessels to fish in the exclusive economic zones of Pacific Island countries.

An interim agreement for 2016 was agreed upon which includes 5,700 fishing days for US vessels.

The Parties to the Nauru Agreement, which controls the world's largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery, says the deal increases the rate each of its members receive by 34 percent.

But the director general of the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency, James Movick, says while the deal is financially beneficial to Pacific nations, the difficult negotiations are threatening the existence of the Treaty beyond 2016.

He says the US agreed to the shorter package in the interests of securing access for their fleet next year but its participation long-term is uncertain.

Pacific Island officials say the concessions requested by the US would require ministerial approval.