The Pacific island countries depend heavily on bilateral aid. Much of this aid is provided by distant water fishing nations in exchange for cheap access to the Western and Central Pacific tuna fishery. Japan access fees (approxiamately US$8 million) are comparable to about 5% of Japanese aid to the region (approximately US$150 million). If access fees were maximised, there is potential for the access fees to match, possibly double, total Japanese aid to the region. It is argued that aid dependency is decreasing the transparency of fishing treaties, decreasing the flexibility of government spending, exposing the Pacific island countries to large financial risks associated with possible aid withdrawal, and stifling the region's own efforts for fisheries, and broader economic, development.