DLNR: NMI to get $265K in penalties from illegal fishers
The Department of Lands and Natural Resources will soon receive approximately $265,000 in funding as a result of penalties stemming from foreign fishing vessels caught illegally fishing in CNMI waters, according to DLNR Secretary Arnold I. Palacios yesterday.
Palacios received this information from NOAA Office of Law Enforcement senior attorney Alexa Coleat the 154th WESPAC Council Meeting held in Hawaii from June 26 to 28.
These vessels were caught illegally fishing in CNMI waters by U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam while conducting aerial/sea patrol. Foreign fishing vessels caught fishing are boarded and all items on board including fish caught, fishing equipment, including the vessel, are seized and fishermen, boat crew and captain are detained. Disposition of the items are determined by a U.S. District Court judge through court proceedings.
The funds will finance fishery related projects under the CNMI’s approved Marine Conservation Plan. Under the plan, penalty funds such as those from illegal fishing cases will be used to support MCP priorities, such as commercial harvest monitoring systems, analysis of data on pelagic fisheries resources, develop fishery management zones for the exclusive economic zone, EEZ enforcement program, construction of cold storage, fish processing and fish market facilities, longline permit, reporting and quota utilization program to facilitate responsible fisheries development, development of fish marketing plan, fisheries technology and education program, enhancing fishing opportunities by deploying community fish aggregation devices, recreational and subsistence fishing economic impact and use study, commercial fisheries baseline assessment, among others.
In October 2011, DLNR issued an announcement of availability of funds of about $300,000. In February 2012, a Marine Conservation Plan Committee was formed to review, select and award proposals submitted to DLNR. The proposals varied from rigging a fishing vessel with the proper equipment to travel for aquaculture workshops, cold storage facilities, vertical longline training course, bottomfish training, etc. Similar announcement of funds will be made for the $265,000 funds that the CNMI expects to receive shortly. (Office of the Governor)