The Global Companies are summoning their U.S. Flag tuna vessels into port with a plan to suspend operations for the foreseeable future. The unprecedented move is in response to learning on Christmas Eve that all U.S. vessels operating in the Western Pacific Ocean under the South Pacific Tuna Treaty are to halt operations effective December 31, 2015.
In a detailed letter to the American Tunaboat Association (ATA), the Department of Commerce’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Honolulu Director, Mike Tosatto, advised that all U.S. vessels are prohibited from fishing in the Western Pacific Ocean (WPO) until licenses from the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) are issued for 2016.
Tosatto’s guidance was direct: “Under the Treaty and SPTA, (16 USC 973c), US purse seiners may not be used for fishing in the Licensing Area unless validity licensed under 50 CFR 300.32.”
The purse seiner conflict is the result of a recent request by U.S. tuna fleet operators who asked the U.S. State Department, through the ATA, to reduce the number of purchased access days; the days were accepted just five months ago by the entire fleet during August negotiations in Brisbane, Australia.
Media inquiries may be directed to Margie Newman of Intesa Communications Group: margie (at) intesacom (dot) com | 619-995-3078.
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