PNG tells superpower not to fish in ‘our’ waters
PAPUA New Guinea has given notice to the United States that it is not welcome to fish in Pacific waters, The National reports.
Frustrated over the Americans’ stubbornness following two years of negotiations, PNG had opted out of the multilateral treaty on fisheries with the superpower.
The PNG position would be taken up by Pacific Island nations who are members to the treaty.
The treaty allowed US fishing vessels to fish without limit, catching in excess of 500,000 metric tonnes of fish which worked out to about US$2 billion of finished fish products each year.
In return, Pacific Island nation members of the treaty received an average of US$2 million each year in access fees and development components.
Cabinet last Thursday considered and approved a submission by Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Ben Semri to adopt this course of action.
Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal said the treaty was outdated and could not accommodate recent economic partnership arrangements with other countries such as the European Union where it recently ratified an interim economic partnership agreement.
The EU agreement allowed duty free access for unlimited fish products into the vast European market.
This hardline stance by PNG, on behalf of smaller Pacific Island nations, would sent direct signals to Washington that the multilateral fish treaty was unsustainable.
Abal said in a statement released in Port Moresby: “This is your time, US, to recognise island countries and increase licence fees for fishing.
“The PNG government’s decision is the right thing for the nations in the region. It is about time our friends state clearly and fairly their interest with us. They must give credit where it is due,” Abal said.
“Pacific Island countries want the fishing licence fees to be increased.
“The US would have recognised that the Pacific Ocean, and the fish and fishery products, is the main livelihood of our nations.
“Obviously, we want more for our fish and related products than what has been determined by the treaty so far.”
This meant the fishing effort afforded to the US treaty could now be redirected for domestic production to utilise the opportunities presented in the European market, the world’s largest fisheries consumer market.
The treaty required a 12-month period for notification by state parties.