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Under pressure, US increases Pacific tuna offer

ISLANDS BUSINESS

AS THE PACIFIC RACES TO SEAL A DEAL for its tuna stocks, Papua New Guinea has been able to secure a temporary payment of $45 million from the United States for the Pacific Islands parties as a condition for revoking the termination of the US treaty.

The move has been described as significant given the history of the treaty and the lengthy negotiations for a new agreement.

This will give the United States and the Pacific Island nations more time to continue negotiating for a successor treaty.

The interim deal represents a breakthrough as stakeholders have gone through some lengthy and intense talks.

Papua New Guinea’s Peter O’Neill wrote to Pacific Islands leaders last month informing them that his government had been in contact with US officials and he would be expecting the US to pay $45 million for the 9,000 days its fishing fleet will operate in the Pacific region as a condition for revoking its notice to withdraw from the treaty.

PNG’s Minister for Trade and Commerce Charles Abel personally relayed this message during treaty negotiations in Nadi last month.

Under the current treaty, the US gives about $18 million to 16 members of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency while its industry pays $3 million plus indexation.

PNG had issued a notice to withdraw from the US treaty last year, which would have brought an end to the treaty in May this year, leaving the US to negotiate with individual nations until a new deal is finalised.

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