By Rosalyn Albaniel-Evara, Pacific Media@WCPFC13
Papua New Guinea has again congratulated the United States and Pacific Island Parties to the 28-year old South Pacific Tuna Treaty for successfully negotiating amendments to the pact.
PNG Ambassador Lucy Bogari was speaking in Nadi, Fiji as three more countries including PNG signed on to the amendments and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will allow fishing access for the next six years.
A larger signing ceremony took place in Nadi, Fiji, on Saturday and while PNG was represented at this event by the deputy director of the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) Philip Polon he had only initialled the changes.
During years of tense negotiations to achieve the amendments PNG at one stage became so frustrated it pulled out of talks.
At the beginning of this year the rift over tuna relations hit a new low when the US failed to pay for its agreed fishing days and issued a formal notice of intention to withdraw from the Treaty.
“We would like to recognise that this is an instrument that truly marks the relationship we have between the United States of America and the Pacific Island Parties,” Ms Bogari told representatives from the US, the Forum Fisheries Agency, the Pacific Island Parties and the media in Nadi.
We in the Pacific are very keen to see that the relationship that we have enjoyed with the US over the years, Ms Bogari said
“PNG continues to also ask that the rule of law and the regulatory arrangements that we have in place for the fisheries is followed by all parties, Ms Bogari said.
The amendments and MOU encompasses access fees and aid to the 17 member states of the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and across the Pacific is worth about US$70million.
The PNG government’s endorsement of the MOU which is a bridging mechanism which allows the US to fish in the Pacific waters pending the full ratification of the re-negotiated 30 year old deal came only yesterday.
It the seven long years of negotiations.
“This is an important treaty for the Pacific Island Party and PNG in its capacity as depository,” Ms Bogari said
“And as the depository we look forward to playing our role in ensuring that the instruments or whatever it needs to formalise the rescinding of the (US) withdrawal takes place and we look forward to the continuing relationship in that regard.
Ms Bogari also congratulated the US on its successful election of the superpower’s new president and affirmed the Pacific’s keenness to see the continuation of what she said has been a cordial relationship.
Meanwhile, two other countries had also signed off on the MOU and they were Niue-represented by the head of the delegation Josie Tamate and Tuvalu’s newly appointed Minister for fisheries Dr Puakena Boreham.
Both representatives in their respective remarks marking this important event had also pledge their government’s support.