AS Pacific countries and top fishing authorities race against time to try to resolve an impasse with the US tuna fleet, there are growing calls for a more flexible and permanent solution.
The US reneged on a deal worth US68 million, agreed to last year, because some members of the American fleet say they can no longer pay the fees after a sharp drop in the price of skipjack tuna.
As a result, the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency has refused to issue vessel licences for 2016 and is attempting to negotiate a solution.
But it’s left many small Pacific Island nations with big holes in their budgets, as they heavily rely on the money from offshore fishing.
Under the current arrangements, the U-S fleet, with 37 vessels, negotiates and buys fishing days collectively from 17 different Pacific Islands.
But Brian Hallman, the CEO of the American Tunaboats Association says that makes it a complex system that needs to be fixed.