The first fishing agreement made between a Pacific island state and the European Union has been placed before EU ministers for approval.

The deal struck with the Republic of Kiribati will last for three years and allow six European purse seine vessels (reduced to four for the subsequent two years) and 12 surface longliners to catch tuna in the country’s 3.5 million square kilometre exclusive economic zone.

A European Commission note said that the west Pacific is "the richest tuna fishery in the world," where there are "margins for the intensification of the fishing effort."

Catch quotas will be limited and policed by the region’s Secretariat of the Pacific Community.