A MUCH anticipated deal between Pacific island nations and the United States tuna fleet is close to completion after $USD6million in costs for workshops, seminars and informal meetings. But once ink is put to paper, the Pacific’s smallest states will earn up to $USD14,000 a day from fishing boats – a massive hike from the current $USD2000.

On top of that there will be a gradual separation of the aid component of the old US Pacific Tuna Treaty from the fishing agreement and each nation will receive up to $USD850,000 a year in assistance. This financial help is separate from bilateral agreements between the US and the Pacific states.

Forum Fisheries Agency Director General, James Movick, said in Vanuatu last month that discussions to finalise an agreement with the US and its mainly San Diego-based tuna fleet had not been easy. “It was a long and involved process starting in 2009,” Movick said after the 13th Forum Fisheries Ministers’ meeting.

“There were 18 formal sessions and 14 workshops, seminars and informal meetings. This has cost $3million in venues and travel cost and that much again in salaries.” The matter came to a head last year with tuna boat operators trying to sell back around 2000 fishing days which they had earlier bought at subsidised prices from the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA).

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