The United States has a long history of cooperation and collaboration with the Pacific Island States to protect and conserve these resources for current and future generations. The fisheries for tuna in the Western and Central Pacific are the largest and most valuable in the world. Our Shiprider program – which allows fisheries enforcement officials from Pacific Island States to ride aboard U.S. Coast Guard vessels – is just one of the ways in which we are able to help enforce effective fisheries conservation.
Since 1988, the United States’ tuna purse seine fleet has operated in the Western and Central Pacific under the terms of the South Pacific Tuna Treaty (the “Treaty”) between the U.S. and sixteen Pacific Island States. This mutually beneficial Treaty arrangement has provided access to Pacific fisheries for the U.S. tuna fleet and has served as a vehicle for the Pacific Island Parties to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues, U.S. Government economic development funding, and assistance with sustainable fisheries management and combating illegal fishing. The United States is negotiating with the Pacific Island Parties to extend the Treaty.
The positive fisheries relationship created by the Treaty, as well as a common desire to conserve fisheries resource, carries over into the multilateral negotiations to establish a conservation and management regime through the Convention for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPFC). The Commission has adopted a number of monitoring, control, surveillance, compliance and enforcement measures, including the first ever high seas boarding and inspection procedures to be adopted by a regional fisheries management organization that are consistent with the provisions of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement. The Commission has also adopted conservation measures for bigeye and yellowfin tuna, swordfish, striped marlin, northern and southern albacore tuna, seabirds, sharks, and the first binding measure for sea turtles requiring the use of specific mitigation techniques, such as circle hooks in shallow set swordfish fisheries.