US can't pay tuna deal signed with PNA

The United States says it cannot afford to pay a US$89.2 million tuna deal it signed with several Pacific countries in August.

Under the Parties to the Nauru Agreement's Vessel Day Scheme, the US fleet was given 5,700 fishing days, but now it's asking the PNA to reduce that to just 2,000 days.

The pay-by-day scheme has quadrupled PNA nations' incomes, but has allowed catch rates to hit new highs, which has seen the market price for tuna drop to half of what it was in 2013.

An official with the US State Department, Michael Drake, says the situation isn't ideal for either side, but the falling price has made current fishing arrangements unaffordable.

“The economics are simply not good and our boats are struggling and going out of business and it's not that we are here by choice, we got here because the terms of offered by the Pacific parties are increasingly less favourable and we have reached a limit,” he said.

PNA Members are Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.