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Friday, 16 July 2010

US$5 million settlement boosts Marine Conservation Plans in the Pacific

Spanish company Albacora S.A., owner of the Albacora Uno, was charged June 2 with 67 counts of fishing inside the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the western and central Pacific Ocean without a valid U.S permit over two years. After four days of negotiations, Albacora S.A. and US authorities NOAA reached a $5 million settlement that will go into the Western Pacific Sustainable Fisheries Fund. What is the largest civil penalty ever assessed by the US autorities will boost the Western Pacific Sustainable Fisheries Fund to implement marine conservation plans in the Pacific: “This money has the potential to do a lot of good for the region, in particular our territories of American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, which are all struggling economically, in helping them sustainably develop their fishing industry and infrastructure” said a senior enforcement attorney for NOAA’s Pacific Islands region.The Western Pacific Sustainable Fisheries Fund was established in 1996, and fines and penalties from violations by foreign fishing vessels that occur in the U.S. EEZ are deposited into the fund, which can only be used to support the conservation and management objectives under a marine conservation plan. In addition to agreeing to a civil penalty, the company Albacora SA admitted the violations and promised to prohibit the Albacora Uno from entering U.S. waters, even in transit, for three years. The terms of the agreement also require the company to develop and implement a company-wide monitoring program to ensure future compliance by its vessels.

Source: Pacific Island News Association