The U.S. State Department has announced its intention to pull out of a nearly 30-year treaty that allowed American boats to fish tuna in a vast area of the Pacific Ocean.

Prompted by some U.S. boats saying they could not pay fees to a cluster of Pacific island nations, the 37-boat fleet — many with ties to San Diego — were not issued licenses at the start of 2016.

The department gave formal notice this week to island nations in the South Pacific Tuna Treaty that it planned to pull out of the world’s biggest tuna fishery.

Pressure on the island nations will likely build as Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, plans to introduce legislation in Congress at the end of this week to cut $21 million in foreign aid to 15 of the countries in the treaty.

Brian Hallman, executive director of the San Diego-based American Tunaboat Association, said the treaty has one year to expire and he was hopeful a new deal could be worked out.

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