US, Pacific clash over ocean riches

It’s TUNA stocktake time

ON the docks of San Diego, Pacific fishing crews stand idle, their million dollar boats have nowhere to go. To the east the once accessible tuna grounds still teem with fish but the billion dollar catch will not make it to any US port in 2016. For once the Pacific has dared to stand up to the bullying tactics of industry by demanding that large fishing fleets honour the terms of their licences.

In January the US Tuna Boat Association – after months of testing the waters – refused to pay around $USD60 million in licences for its long line vessels. Pleading inability to pay because of increased business costs – including fuel prices – the association first attempted to give back 2000 fishing days which it had earlier wanted. The Pacific nations had sold the days – worth an estimated $USD20million – and knew they would lose millions of dollars if the deal did not go through.

Taking back the days would have forced the cost of a single fishing day – the unit by which licences sown across the board and had major repercussions on the industry and national economies. Taking the moral high ground, the Pacific declared that the licences to take tuna had been formalised in a contract and the US must pay at the agreed rate.

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