The State Department says it will now turn to the US industry for its input, but seems hopeful of an agreement, after tough negotiations with the Pacific Island countries on 2016 revisions to the South Pacific Tuna Treaty. KHJ Washington Correspondent Matt Kaye reports:
A State Department official, not authorized to comment publicly, says the Department is now “reviewing” the Pacific Island parties’ proposed fishing access revisions for this year…and consulting with the US tuna industry.”
But the Department seems hopeful of an agreement, calling the response, “constructive.”
The official, in a written statement, says the State Department wants to know if the US industry “would be able to make the payments expected under the revised terms”…despite the many weeks in which vessels have been “un able to fish and maintain viable businesses.”
Neither the State Department, nor the Fisheries Forum Agency that coordinated the latest talks, is releasing details of the proposal, yet.
The new offer was submitted by the FFA, after a two-day meeting in Nadi, Fiji.
FFA Director General James Movick said earlier, the focus of the Pacific Islands was to find ways the island countries could move forward with an arrangement for the US Treaty this year, and also reduce financial losses posed by treaty revisions to meet the US request forfewer fishing days.
Chief Operating Officer of Tri Marine International Joe Hamby said the boat owners will now meet and discuss the Pacific Islands’ response to the US proposal.
FFA’s Movick says the internal negotiations were difficult, but the Pacific Island Parties believe their counter-proposal meets their stated objectives.
Movick says the Parties have been very mindful of the urgency of the matter…do not think it’s in any party’s interests for the fleet to remain tied up…and believe their proposal should satisfy the US without the need for any further negotiation.
The State Department official concludes, “We look forward to working with the Pacific Island parties to reach an accommodation that allows vessels to make payments and resume fishing.”
This is Matt Kaye, reporting for KHJ News, from Washington, D.C.