The Vanuatu prime minister, Moana Carcasses, has appealed to 1,000 members of the Vanuatu Fishermen's Association for more time for the government to consider a 16-year old compensation claim.
The Association members had worked, until 1998, as crew on foreign fishing vessels but their wages, handled by a local company that had ties to the government, failed to pay them.
They want compensation of about 31 million US dollars.
Mr Carcasses says his government recognises its obligation to look into and settle claims put by the fishermen but any deal would need to be consistent with the laws of the country.
There has already been a commission of inquiry but the prime minister says a new inquiry needs to be set up to look at each claim to make sure that they are all legitimate.