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The regional Fisheries agency leading the just-ended annual fisheries negotiations with the US has clarified that the Kiribati’s cuts to fishing days for US purse seiners in its waters was part of the negotiated deal.
Contrary to news headlines in recent days reporting widespread ‘shock’ at the news and ‘shattered regionalism’ for Pacific Fisheries, the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency Deputy Director-General Wez Norris says Kiribati made its revised position clear in plenary sessions during the negotiations in Honolulu earlier this month.
“Kiribati advised the negotiating session that due to changing circumstances it was no longer able to contribute the number of days it had in the past to the Treaty,” says Norris, adding, “the allocation of days is the sovereign prerogative of each Pacific Island Country and one that all governments undertake with much care and consideration for their national circumstances”.
“The Pacific Island Parties accepted that sovereign decision and used the time available in the negotiation session to identify alternative ways to provide a valuable and attractive offer to the US,” he said.
“The ability to work together to deliver this package reflects the strength of regional collaboration and solidarity that has been the basis of Pacific fisheries management and development over the last 35+ years and bodes well for the future”.
“Undoubtedly, the revised package will require a change in operations for at least part of the US industry and they made it clear at the session that this would come at cost to them; but at the end of the day, the deal was agreed to by all Parties and will be the basis of cooperation in 2015.”
FFA understands that a critical factor leading to Kiribati’s position is the need to ensure that it retains sufficient days to ensure full compliance with the Vessel Day Scheme by its strongly growing domestic fleet, and to facilitate arrangements that promote greater on-shore activity and broader economic benefit to Kiribati.
“Effective management of the regional fisheries resource rides a critical balance between national aspirations and solidarity with neighbours and the wider FFA membership. That nexus calls for flexibility and understanding on the part of all our member countries at many regional fisheries events. The level of intensity and negotiation was no different here, and I am pleased to see the US90m outcome for 8,300 days to US-flagged purse seiners in 2015 reflects an outcome of solidarity in the region,said Norris.
Pacific Islands News Association
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