Pacific-US tuna treaty won’t be affected by delays in signing

Fiji’s decision to await parliamentary approval for the signing of the South Pacific Tuna Treaty with the United States will not affect the process for the agreement to come into effect.

The administrator of the Treaty and Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency Director General James Movick said they will await the process of approval.

Movick said the most important step is initialing the agreement and he hopes Fiji might be in a position to do that.

“But I think even if Fiji is unable to initial as a separate process from the parliamentary ratification we have received no indication of dissatisfaction with the Treaty and so we just simply await the outcome of the process,” he said.

Fiji Minister for Fisheries Commander Semi Koroilavesau told FBC News that the signing scheduled today in Nadi would not go ahead.

"Fiji has agreed in principle to the US Treaty but we need Parliament's endorsement before ratification goes ahead," Koroilavesau said.

Most Pacific island countries have signed the treaty with the US.

The agreement replaces a 28 year old one which expired this year.

The US and 16 Pacific member countries of the FFA have agreed to terms of fishing access for the US purse seine fleet to a large part of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean which is home to the world’s largest and most valuable tuna fisheries.

According to Movick, Fiji is not the only country yet to formalize the Treaty.

“There are three other countries that are still yet to complete their national processes for ratification of the MOU or formal approval of the MOU,” he said.

The three countries are Australia, New Zealand and the Federated States of Micronesia.

The agreement comes into effect on January 1, 2017 and Movick said he does not believe there would be any problems if all the countries have not initialed the MOU by then.


Photo: FFA Director General James Movick



Rita Narayan