DFW OKs gill net fishing on Saipan, but MINA opposes


Rep. Denita K. Yangetmai (D-Saipan), extreme right, explains the importance of her legislation that seeks to authorize the use of gill net, locally known as “tekking,” in the Third Senatorial District, during a meeting yesterday with members of the House Committee on Natural Resources chaired by Rep. Angelo Camacho (Ind-Saipan), third from left. (FERDIE DE LA TORRE)

The Division of Fish Wildlife wants to incorporate some amendments that supports the intent of a bill that seeks to authorize the use of gill nets, locally known as “tekking,” on Saipan and the Northern Islands.

Mariana Islands Nature Alliance executive director Roberta Guerrero, on the other hand, opposes the legislation, saying it will have an immediate and long-lasting negative impact on Saipan’s lagoon ecosystem.

“Although there is a perception that this method of fishing is sustainable, it is not, and not only fish will be affected; coral, seagrass, our shorelines, and our children’s resources will be negatively impacted,” said Guerrero in her comments on House Bill 23-5.

Rep. Denita Kaipat Yangetmai (D-Saipan) re-introduced the gill nets bill, House Bill 23-5, which is now before the House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee.

Under the bill, nets known as “tekking” or “gill nets” will be regulated by the Department of Lands and Natural Resources.

During the Committee members’ meeting in the office of Rep. John Paul Sablan yesterday, Yangetmai said she has no problem incorporating the recommendations of DFW director Manny M. Pangelinan.

In his comment on the legislation, Pangelinan, proposed amendments to address the forfeiture of assets, a minimum and maximum fine for offense committed, and to include a fine and not just the suspension of a business license.

In his letter on Feb. 3, 2023 to committee chair Rep. Angelo Camacho (Ind-Saipan), Pangelinan also recommended that any fines and funds generated by the enforcement shall be deposited into a non-lapsing revolving fund and shall be available for expenditure without further appropriation and without fiscal limitation.
To ensure that DFW can implement this proposed law without affecting the current fisheries resources population, he said a subsection should be included, stating that DFW shall conduct a fisheries resource assessment to determine the baseline information of the fisheries resources at the designated fishing grounds.

Yangetmai said they were down on Tinian and Rota last year with the Fish and Wildlife people and they’re fine with gill net fishing and don’t understand why it’s not allowed on Saipan.

Yangetmai suggested restricting this to those of Northern Marianas descent only. Rep. Joel Camacho (Ind-Saipan) stated that it’s like saying only NMDs can drive 35 miles per hour and the rest cannot.

House legal counsel John Bradley said it sounds like there’s so many opinions that it would be a good idea to let people have a chance to comment.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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