Message to the Senate Transmitting the Pacific Island States-United States Fisheries Treaty

June 18, 1987

To the Senate of the United States:

I transmit herewith, for the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, the Treaty on Fisheries Between the Governments of Certain Pacific Island States and the Government of the United States of America, with annexes and agreed statement, which has been signed by the United States and twelve Pacific Island states. Also transmitted for the information of the Senate are (a) a related economic assistance agreement with the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency, (b) notes exchanged with the Governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia concerning fishing areas, and (c) the report of the Department of State with respect to the Treaty.

For the last several years, the United States has been involved in a fisheries dispute with several Pacific Island states as a result of conflicting laws regarding jurisdiction over highly migratory tuna. The Pacific Island nations claim jurisdiction over tuna within their 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zones. The United States neither recognizes nor claims jurisdiction over tuna beyond 12 nautical miles. As mandated by the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the United States Government has prohibited imports of tuna from several countries as a result of seizures of U.S. tuna boats by nations exercising jurisdictional claims. This dispute has resulted in a cycle of tuna vessel seizures and consequential U.S.-imposed trade embargoes that has resulted in serious erosion of our good relations with the countries of the region and has provided the Soviet Union with an opportunity to exploit these differences through fisheries agreements.

United States policy under the Magnuson Act has been to negotiate international agreements to ensure the effective conservation and management of tuna and to secure access for U.S. fishermen to the stocks wherever they migrate beyond a narrow belt of coastal waters. The Treaty provides for the issuance of regional licenses for tuna fishing in some ten million square miles of the South Pacific Ocean. Data collected on tuna catch may provide a basis for future management and conservation efforts. It thus furthers U.S. fisheries policy goals while eliminating the primary source of bilateral friction between the United States and the Pacific Island states.

I recommend that the Senate give early consideration to the Treaty, with annexes and agreed statement, and give its advice and consent to ratification at an early date.

Ronald Reagan

The White House,

June 18, 1987.