U.S. boats are set to be locked out of the world’s best tuna-fishing waters after reneging on a deal with 17 Pacific states, amid a slump in prices for the fish sold in cans in supermarkets all over the country.

The standoff means U.S. boats cannot access seas where around half of the world’s skipjack tuna are caught each year. It is also endangering a vital revenue stream for some of the world’s poorest nations.

A group of Pacific island states—which includes small islands and atolls such as Tuvalu, Tokelau and the Marshall Islands—along with New Zealand and Australia are refusing to issue fishing licenses to around 36 U.S. vessels to trawl in their waters after their owners, typically tuna-supply companies or individuals, refused to meet payments agreed in August last year.

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