South Pacific Tuna Treaty

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 29, 2016


The most recent South Pacific Tuna Treaty renegotiation session concluded successfully on Saturday, June 25, 2016. Negotiators from the United States and representatives of the 16 Pacific Island parties reached agreement in principle on changes to the 27-year-old Tuna Treaty and the terms of fishing access for the U.S. purse seine fleet to Pacific Island waters through 2022. The proposed agreement would establish more flexible procedures for commercial cooperation between U.S. industry and Pacific Island parties. The outcome reflects strong cooperation between the parties to the Treaty and relevant stakeholders, and a mutual commitment to the broader positive relationship between the United States and the Pacific Island region.

The parties will need to conduct additional reviews before concluding and signing a final agreement. Final agreement is also subject to a formal decision by the United States to rescind its previous notice of withdrawal from the Treaty.

The South Pacific Tuna Treaty (Multilateral Treaty on Fisheries) entered into force in 1988. The Treaty has been under renegotiation since 2009. The U.S. delegation to the 18th Renegotiation Session included officials from the Department of State, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, American Samoa, and the U.S. fishing industry.

The revised Treaty would set the operational terms and conditions for the U.S. tuna purse seine fleet to fish in waters under the jurisdiction of the Pacific Island Parties, which cover a wide swath of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. The Western and Central Pacific Ocean contains the largest and most valuable tuna fisheries in the world. Many Pacific Island parties depend on fisheries as one of their most important natural resources, and the United States has for decades sought to be a valued partner in developing regional fisheries. The U.S. purse seine fleet operates according to the highest commercial standards and is subject to strict enforcement by U.S. authorities. The Treaty has supported U.S. contributions to sound sustainable fishery management and efforts to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. It has been a cornerstone for cooperation between the Pacific Islands and the United States, and has helped establish best practices for fisheries management in the region.

For further information, please contact Kelly Cohun at cohunka@state.gov or (202) 647-6828.