The Department of Land and Natural Resources is working on an agreement that would give fisherfolk in the CNMI free ice flakes in exchange for data on their daily catch.
Department of Land and Natural Resources Secretary Anthony Benavente said the DLNR wants to both help fisherfolk save money and gather vital marine life information.
According to Benavente, information that CNMI fisherfolk can provide about their daily catch is information that DLNR could use to protect the islands’ natural resources.
Information on what kinds of fish are caught regularly is essential data for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, he said, and, with the free ice-fish data swap in place, it would make the process of gathering this information easier.
“This is something we’re trying to work with the local fishermen in terms of providing them the ice to keep their fish fresh [while they] give us the data of their catches on a daily basis…because this information is essential to NOAA….and so we can also be knowledgeable on what kind of fish are being caught and what are hard to catch,” he said.
The agreement would also give CNMI fisherfolk an opportunity to save money. An average fisherfolk would need about six to 10 bags of ice to maintain the freshness of their catch. With ice going for nearly $2 a bag, the DLNR agreement would help fisherfolk save at least $10 a day, Benavente said.
“We give them all the ice they want, provided this is for the fish and not for personal use. It could be a good day or bad day of catching but, for fishermen who go out daily, that’s spending about $10 daily and that’s a lot of money. This will be good savings for them,” he said.
The department is still working on the agreement itself and the process in which the fisherfolk can get the ice and submit their data.
“We’ll be working on [something similar to] a log sheet or data report that they can carry in something waterproof or they can come in and fill out the forms. What we’ll do when they come in, we pick up the form,” he said.
Benavente said the idea behind the agreement was discussed during the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council meeting back in 2018.