Call to resist demands from US

Business, Normal

The National, Friday October 9th, 2015

 FISHERIES and Marine Resources Minister Mao Zeming has urged nations in the Pacific to resist demands from  the United States fishing fleet fishing in their waters.

The ministers are meeting in Nadi, Fiji, to discuss a threat by the US to pull out of a fishing treaty with countries in the region.

“If the treaty with the US fleet collapses, the 16 countries, who are members of the Forum Fisheries Agency are likely to suffer losses amounting to about US$90 million (K263 million) annually, including US$21m (K61 million) in grants annually from the US Government that is shared by the 16 FFA member countries,” he said.

Zeming told his regional colleagues about PNG’s tough stance in protecting its interest in the 1970s that led to the negotiation and creation of the treaty.

“PNG’s tough and uncompromising stance in the 1970s led to the arrest and seizing of American registered fishing vessels that were operating without a licence in the exclusive economic zone of PNG and Solomon Islands,” he said.

“The FFA was formed to protect and promote the sovereign rights of all forum member countries, including negotiating the treaty.

“In 2010, PNG again moved to kill the treaty after it became apparent that the US continued to down-play the applicability of national laws in the EEZs of the countries, prompting negotiations for the current package.”

The meeting in Nadi was to find a solution to demands by the US that there would be no treaty for 2017 and beyond, unless its four larger vessels were exempted from the length adjustment factor, that the US fishing fleet be allowed access to Western High Seas Pocket, and that more access (than allowed) be given for the Kiribati EEZ.

“As responsible leaders, we are required to make careful and make holistic decisions that consider the needs of our people in the region. So no one is worse off,” he said. 

“If we decide to pursue this treaty, we must consider what is acceptable.”