PNA countries agree to crank up fees
Parties to the Nauru Agreement nations have agreed to crank up the fees they charge to fish in their waters.
The eight nations that make up the Parties to the Nauru Agreement have agreed to raise the fees they charge purse seiner tuna boats by 33%, in an attempt to raise over US$370m.
From next year, the fishing day fee will rise from $6000 to 8000 per boat.
After two days of meetings in the Marshall Islands, the PNA nations also issued a strongly-worded communiqué putting the US industry on notice that the $63m it has agreed to pay annually to fish in the region isn't enough.
Our correspondent in Majuro, Giff Johnson, told Jamie Tahana PNA nations control over half the world's skipjack tuna supply and will have significant leverage to get what they want.
GIFF JOHNSON: The PNA meeting has produced quite a remarkable set of decisions out of this two day meeting in Majuro, and in addition to agreeing to bump up the fishing day fee from US$6,000 to US$8,000 which is a huge increase in revenue which will flow to the eight member nations of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement. In addition to that, they've told the US that the amount in the treaty that's still under negotiation isn't enough now and at next month's negotiating session they're going to have to increase it. And so that's a big shot across the US industry because even at the $6,000 rate PNA countries have been grumbling about giving days to the US fleet because they can sell them to Asian and other fleets for more. So now with the bumping to $8,000 the US treaty is already out of date, even before it has been finally and completly negotiated. On top of that, they've also sent a strong message to the distant water fishing nations that are members of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, or the WCPFC, which regulates, or is supposed to regulate, fishing on the high seas. But they want more action, they want the distant water nations following the rules and coming to the table on conservation measures and not leaving it just to the islands to enforce these measures. So this meeting has certainly stepped up the PNA's participation in the industry.
JAMIE TAHANA: And quite a brazen move, especially in regards to the call to the US. I mean, how much leverage do the PNA have?
GJ: Here's the thing. With the US fleet of about 40 purse seiners, they fish almost exclusively in PNA waters. And even though the treaty with the US industry and US government is with the entire Western Pacific region, which is more than just the PNA members, the target fishing area is PNA waters. That means PNA really does have leverage with the US.
JT: And what's brought all this on over the last two days?
GJ: Well, this is the annual ministers meeting where they get the eight fisheries ministries from the PNA countries together to review the PNA's programme, and my observation is that this is just the progression of PNA taking its share of the fishing industry. And you know for 50 years distant water fishing countries have ruled the Pacific. And they've taken huge profit out of the area. And the PNA is just trying to turn the tables and say it's time for the islands to be in control. And the PNA is not only pushing the higher benchmark fee, which is a requirement of entry and of licence fee, so if fishing companies want to fish, they just have to pay what the PNA calls for for this fishing day fee.
The PNA nations are Nauru, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, Palau, Tuvalu, Kiribati and Federated States of Micronesia.
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