US decides to withdraw from Pacific tuna treaty

The U.S. State Department has decided to officially withdraw its tuna fleet from the South Pacific Tuna Treaty after the nation’s vessels were unable to pay the USD 67 million (EUR 61.2 million) fee to the Pacific Islands for fishing days in 2016.

Following a 12 month period – which began once the withdrawal notice was handed in on 18 January – the 27-year-old treaty will expire, according to ABC News. The notice was addressed to the 17-nation Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), and expressed that the terms of the treaty were “no longer viable” for the U.S. fleet.

"Rather than serving as a means of facilitating opportunities for the US fleet to fish in the region, the treaty itself prevents the fleet from doing so," said William Gibbons-Fly, the State Department's director of marine conservation, per ABC News.

The Pacific Island nations said the decision arrived at by the Washington to renege on an agreement signed in August, wherein the U.S. fleet agreed to pay for 8,250 fishing days, comes as a disappointment. The countries continue to believe that a treaty with the United States is beneficial and necessary.

“We still see a very, very strong role for having the treaty between the Pacific countries and the US," FFA deputy director general Wez Norris told the ABC's Pacific Beat program. "It is just a matter of modernising it and making sure it reflects the real situation both in terms of the geo-political arrangements and the way that the fishery is managed and access is sold these days."

The United States remains open to negotiating a new possible agreement: "The United States stands ready to engage in discussions to determine whether the treaty can be restructured to provide benefits to both sides in the long-term," wrote Gibbons-Fly in the withdrawal notice.

The Pacific nations plan to convene early next month to prepare a response for the United States on the matter.

Read more on the events leading up to the withdrawal notice here:


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