Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the Pacific Regional Fisheries Treaty

October 23, 1986

On October 20, 1986, negotiators from the United States and 16 Pacific island nations reached agreement on a regional fisheries treaty that will give American tuna vessels access to some 10 million square miles of rich fishing grounds in the South Pacific Ocean. The agreement provides just and fair compensation to the islands for the resource and offers the parties to the treaty a substantial development assistance package that will continue the long tradition of close and productive relations between the United States and the island states. The agreement came after 10 sessions of difficult negotiations over 2 years stemming from seizures of U.S. tuna boats in the region. The agreement is not only an expression of a mutual desire to reduce the friction these seizures generated but offers another concrete example of U.S. interest in the sustained development of the democratic nations of the area.

The agreement calls for the United States to provide a minimum of $12 million each year for at least 5 years to the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency, a regional organization representing the 16 nations. The U.S. tuna fishing industry will contribute $1.75 million in license fees plus $250,000 in technical assistance. The U.S. Government will provide $10 million annually in economic assistance. The treaty also will help island States develop their own fishing industries through joint ventures and technical assistance from the U.S. industry, the most advanced in the world. In many instances, fisheries are the only natural resource available for development by the island nations.