FFA welcomes US announcement of significant increase to financial contribution under Multilateral Tuna Treaty with Pacific Island countries

HONIARA, 13 July 2022 The Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) has welcomed the announcement today from the United States Government that it will significantly increase its annual financial contribution to the Multilateral Tuna Treaty between the U.S. and Pacific Island countries. 

The announcement was made by US Vice President Kamala Harris, appearing virtually before the 51st Pacific Forum Leaders meeting being held in Suva, Fiji. Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama welcomed the Vice President and the Meeting was MC’d by FFA’s Director General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen.

 Vice President Harris confirmed that the US government would be seeking Congressional approval to increase its contribution from the current US $21 million per annum to US $60 million per annum, for the coming ten-year period up to 2033.

Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) Ministerial Chair and Honourable Minister for Fisheries, Fiji, Mr Semi Koroilavesau says today’s announcement signifies the US Government’s strong commitment to the region amidst the existing global climate and environment crisis. He went on to highlight that the increase in the US Government contribution towards the Treaty signifies the long lasting friendship with the region which in turn will contribute to the realisation of important aspirations.

As the current FFC Chair and the lead negotiator, Honourable Koroilavesau recognised the efforts by the regional Fisheries Ministers which enabled him to steer negotiations.

“These negotiations were made possible with a collective voice, sound and song, which is the strength of the region and of course through determined cooperation and collaboration,” said Mr Koroilavesau.

Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency Director General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen explained that the Treaty provides for fisheries access by US vessels into the EEZ waters of the Pacific Island Parties, with associated payments by the US industry, as well as fisheries related development assistance through the US government’s contribution. 

“We welcome this announcement that represents a significant milestone in the renegotiation of the financial package for the next iteration of the Treaty, which has been in place for 34 years now. We are grateful for the commitment and hard work of our Ministerial Chair, Honourable Koroilavesau, all our Fisheries Ministers and Officials,” said Dr Tupou-Roosen.

The announcement paves the way for the more detailed negotiations to take place, including on the operational matters associated with US vessel access starting with arrangements for 2023.

The United States also expressed its interest in wider cooperation with Pacific Islands countries under the auspices of the Treaty, including in areas such as tackling IUU fishing, dealing with the impacts of climate change on fisheries, and broader maritime security.  For their part, Pacific Island Parties have expressed an interest in discussing a range of areas for broader cooperation, including improved access to the US market for fisheries products caught in their waters.  These discussions are expected to commence in earnest among officials in the coming weeks.

Background information

The Treaty entered into force in June 1988 and has been operating for 34 years now. The Treaty provides for access by U.S. flagged purse seine vessels to fish for tuna in the EEZs of the Pacific Islands Parties in exchange for access fees paid by the U.S.  industry and fisheries development assistance provided by the U.S. government.  

While there is no sunset clause to the Treaty, the associated financial package is limited to specified durations, with current arrangements expiring at the end of 2022. 

 Media Contact: Samantha Mattila FFA Strategic Communications Manager

e:[email protected]

About Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)

FFA assists its 17-member countries to sustainably manage fishery resources that fall within their 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). FFA provides expertise, technical assistance and other support to its members who make decisions about their tuna resources and participate in regional decision making on tuna management.  Find out more herewww.ffa.int