Pacific offers the US a new tuna deal
Pacific island countries agree to offer the United States a modified deal to resolve the tuna treaty breakdown.
Pacific nations have reached agreement to accept American terms to try and resurrect the tuna treaty which fell apart last month.
At 3 days of meetings this week in Nadi the members of the Forum Fisheries Agency debated what to do about a US plea to buy fewer fishing days in their fishing zones.
The US's reneging had cost the Pacific more than 68 million US dollars.
The FFA member states this week put the focus on moving forward to try and conclude a deal with the US and mitigate the financial loss.
The FFA's director general James Movick says they have deal they hope the US will still accept.
JAMES MOVICK: Yes, we have agreed. We looked at the US request and we agreed to offer to take back a number of days from the United States, from the Treaty which we hope will be sufficient to enable them to proceed, given what they say is their economic situation.
DON WISEMAN: They'd asked for a substantial cut hadn't they, are you meeting that figure?
JM: Essentially we are and we're doing so in a way that also allows us to meet some of our other objectives but clearly we're doing it under a degree of difficulty and duress or loss in this case because last year when the United States had asked for the number of days that we did finally agree to give them we had questioned them as to whether they really needed those and made the point that we have other buyers who want those days as well as our own domestic needs. We at the end agreed to give the United States the higher number of days that they asked for and now that they've asked for a reduction, while we can still use those days to meet some of our domestic needs and the needs of some of our partners obviously the economic situation has changed, we're dealing now with a shortened year during which we are selling those licences to others and so we're not going to recoup the full amount that we had expected and that we had negotiated with the US last year. If we'd had the time last year to negotiate with those other parties we wouldn't be facing this situation of loss.
DW: So you're going to ask the US to pay a higher price for the days they hang on to?
JM: No, the arrangement is that the US said that they simply wanted a reduced number of days but were willing to pay the same rate per day that was negotiated last year, which was a fair rate we thought and we've retained basically that rate.
DW: It's a case really of the US playing hardball and winning isn't it?
JM: To some extent but it's also a matter where you know winning the battle, you can lose the war, if this is going to be what they consider to be a normal way of operating because clearly the Pacific has learnt a lot of lessons from this and we'll be far less willing to be as trusting or accommodating in the future. And I think the other lesson that's going to be learned by Pacific Island countries is that entering into broad multi-lateral arrangements that require all the parties to take uniform action does contain these difficulties and so I think the lessons that are being learned for the future are very important ones and I think the US, you know they say this is a result of the exigencies of the situation facing them now that's fine and we've had to try to accommodate so that we minimise the financial impact on ourselves but certainly some clear lessons have been learnt and are being stored in our memory banks.
DW: So you'd expect the Americans to come back very quickly, say yes, and get their boats out on the water almost immediately?
JM: We're hoping that they will, we certainly designed the offer to be as accommodative as possible in that regard, recognising that they would like to get to sea and we would like to resolve the certainty of our funding situation for this year. And so we've designed it that way and we are awaiting the US response and hope that it will be coming to us shortly and we'll be able to proceed with the issuance of permits fairly soon after we get word and payment by the United States.
DW: So this is 2016, what's happening in subsequent years because historically this has been a long-term arrangement hasn't it?
JM: That's correct and that's what we want to do is restore it to a long-term arrangement so it's more stable for all of the parties but to do so in a manner that accommodates the realities of the current fishing arrangements and the commercial realities. I think there is optimism that we will be able to develop a model, a structure that enables that so that we are working as a group but we have more creative and flexible arrangements with the licensing of American boats so that we can continue the Treaty and that was the meeting on the third day was for the Pacific Island parties to look at possible options in terms of the structure. We're quite optimistic that there is a possible structure for us to develop that will be acceptable to both the Pacific parties and the United States.
DW: Those other days now that are going to go in the bank and you say for domestic purposes but also clearly some to be hopefully on-sold to other foreign fishers, who's in line to get those?
JM: It depends on each of the countries, we don't have a uniform agreement as to who they would go to. Each country will determine how it will use the days that is has agreed to take back from the Treaty and it'll apply it whether to its domestic vessels or to any other distant water fishing nations that they've been in discussions with up to this point.
DW: That's all bilateral arrangement.
JM: Those are all bilateral arrangements, yes.
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