PNG may return to tuna talks

National, Normal

The National,Wednesday18 January 2012

PAPUA New Guinea will rejoin crucial talks with the United States over the South Pacific Tuna Treaty when two demands are met.
Last April, PNG withdrew from the 25-year-old treaty, which involves 14 countries including the US which has been given unlimited access to Pacific tuna stocks in return for around US$18 million aid each year.
But yesterday, a delegation, led by PNG Trade Minister Charles Abel, returned to Nadi, Fiji, where the talks are being held, with a letter to the US from Prime Minister Peter O’Neill setting out the conditions for its return.
National Fisheries Authority managing director Sylvester Pokajam revealed in an interview with Radio Australia yesterday that O’Neill was considering returning to the talks but had two conditions.
PNG wanted the US to pay more for its licensing fee and for a new formula for pricing catches in the new treaty.
The current treaty expires in May and Pokajam said there was a real risk it could expire before a new deal was reached.
“Our prime minister has been getting a lot of feedback from his Pacific neighbours. They have requested him to reconsider our withdrawal.
“He has taken into account the key interests in the Pacific and also with the US.”