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US Tuna Seiners Get Better Deal Than Others

The US fleet is getting a “much better deal” than others who are also paying for access to the rich fishing grounds of the Pacific Island countries, says James Movick, director-general at the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) in an interview.
The US and the Pacific Fisheries officials are still negotiating some finer details of a new tuna fishing agreement as the current ten year deal expires in June.
James Movick, director-general at the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)

“Compared to other fleets, the US fleet is getting access at a lower cost than other boats getting the same level of access,” Movick told Radio Australia recently.                                                                                     

The treaty is a multilateral access arrangement, which means the US fleet has access to all 16 exclusive economic zones of the Pacific Island parties. No other foreign fishing fleet has that level of access.
The fishing access in the region is governed by a Vessel Day Scheme, which is a scheme based on effort. The US has already agreed to pay USD 63 million for 8,300 days of fishing.
“At USD 7,500 per day, this is higher than what other boats are paying on an individual zone basis, but when one takes into account the fact that the current regional benchmark for access is between USD 5,000-5,500 a day and increasing, one could say the US boats are getting a much better deal than others are paying,” Movick said. Aiming at the US fleet getting for the Usd 7500 access to 16 zones instead, which creates a much higher efficiency per vessel.
He said the leaders of the Pacific Island parties have accepted the current package as a fair amount of compensation for the level of fishing access.  
“One has to take into account the totality of factors here – this is not just a fishing agreement. There are other elements of a strategic relationship between the Pacific Island parties and the US that are equally important,” Movick said. At the same time Movick denied that geo- political motives were behind the motivation of the leaders.
Previously, the Pacific Islands had requested duty free access into the US market for their tuna products, but the market access was denied.
The treaty will be finalized in May and the FFA is working to maintain uniform terms and conditions, as opposed to giving the US fleet preferential treatment, according to Movick.