The small island states of the South Pacific have been developing innovative legal and administrative mechanisms to manage the vast tuna resource in the exclusive economic zones. These are aimed primarily at controlling and regulating the activities of foreign fishing vessels which account for 90 per cent of the tuna catch taken in the region. The short-term objective of these island states is to control the activities of these foreign fishing vessels. Their long-term goal, however, is to develop their own domestic tuna industries. In 1995, the Federated States of Micronesia Arrangement for Regional Fisheries Access entered into force. This Arrangement establishes a framework for vessels that bring quantifiable economic benefits to be given preferential access to the parties' EEZs. This article reviews the Arrangement and argues that it has the potential to form the basis of a new co-operative relationship between the island states and distant water fishing nations.