11 Aug 2015

Failed fish treaty casts doubt on US-Pacific aid

1:54 pm on 11 August 2015

Failed fishing treaty negotiations between Pacific countries and the United States are putting future aid from the US under threat.

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

But instead an 89 million US dollar deal for 2016 was reached with the US saying its participation beyond that is uncertain.

Yellow Fin tuna

Yellow Fin tuna Photo: RNZI

The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency's deputy director general, Wez Norris, says the US provides financial assistance under the Treaty and the agency is taking the threat of lost aid seriously.

"At the moment the US government provides 21 million dollars per year, a lot of which is distributed evenly amongst the Pacific Island Parties. Now for many of the Pacific Island Parties that's the only direct financial assistance that they receive from the United States, so obviously ceasing that economic assistance would have a very significant impact on them."

Wez Norris says negotiations have become increasingly difficult over the past few years and the treaty may need to be amended.