Fisheries group rallies behind ice-data swap deal

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The Saipan Fishermen Association supports the Department of Land and Natural Resource’s idea to forge an agreement between the department and CNMI fishermen to swap ice for fishery data.

The idea is to help fishermen save money by giving them the ice they need for their ice chests. In exchange, the fishermen would give DLNR scientists information about the fish they caught.

Saipan Fishermen Association’s Gene Weaver believes the agreement is a good idea to help CNMI fishermen. “At the same time, fishermen would be saving on their ice expense but also providing much needed data [about] their catch, which is needed,” he said in an email message when asked about the DLNR proposal.

As a means to help the environment, Weaver suggested that DLNR eliminate plastic bags when distributing the ice to the fishermen.

“I would like to see them do away with plastic ice bags…and provide ice to the fishermen/fisherwomen directly into their ice chest. This would be one way to rid of plastic, which is a worldwide problem,” he said.

DLNR Secretary Anthony Benavente outlined the proposal in a previous interview, saying DLNR plans to offer free ice to fishermen in exchange for data about their daily catch because the department wants to both help fisherfolk save money and gather vital marine life information.

According to Benavente, information that CNMI fishermen can provide about their daily catch is information the DLNR could use to protect the islands’ natural resources.

Additionally, information on what kinds of fish are caught regularly is essential data for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 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 [about] 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 needs about six to 10 bags of ice to maintain the freshness of the 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.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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