The Pagan fishing initiative under the Northern Islands Mayor’s Office was going smoothly but operations had to be put on hold due to the impact of storms in the past couple of months.
According to Northern Islands Mayor Jerome K. Aldan, typhoons Soudelor and Nangka put a halt to operations due to the choppy waters and lack of boats going north.
Aldan assured, though, that he would be going north sometime this month to make sure the project gets going again.
The storms prevented him from going up north in August and September.
Right now, they already have a container with a solar-operated freezer on Pagan and it is being used as a cold storage unit for the fish that are intended to be brought to Saipan for sale.
Aldan said the Department of Lands and Natural Resources’ Marine Conservation Plan’s seed funding of $40,620 defrayed the purchase of fishing gear and equipment intended to jumpstart the fishing community on Pagan.
In a letter to DLNR Secretary Richard Seman, Aldan said he used the funding to purchase fishing equipment from Fishing Tackle & Sporting Goods and Joeten Motor Co. for the purchase of a Yamaha outboard motor.
“The fishing gear, equipment, and 25-horsepower Yamaha outboard motor have been transferred to Pagan Island on July 26, 2015, together with the first batch of seven fishermen that would commence the fishing project,” Aldan told Seman.
“NIMO has been collaborating closely with local fishing vessels vendors who frequent the waters in the Northern Islands to provide the needed ocean transport from Pagan to the local Saipan market. NIMO has made preliminary contacts with one of the major hotels on Saipan for this purpose,” he added.
Earlier in July, 20 native residents travelled to the Northern Islands with the intension of establishing a fishing community in Pagan as part of the Mayor’s Resettlement Plan.
When fully implemented, the fishing community will be involved in trolling for tuna, wahoo, mahi-mahi, and marlin. It would also involve bottom fishing for snappers, groupers, jobfish, trevallies, and emperor as well as spearfishing for surgeonfish, rudderfish, parrotfish, mullets, and goatfish.
“The fishing community will be able to process for consumption harvested fish, which would undergo proper processing to preserve and maintain quality for export to Saipan where it would be sold and distributed,” Aldan said.
“The Saipan Fishermen’s Market Association is getting set to reopen its marketing operation at a new location along Beach Road in Garapan and has agreed to assist the NIMO with its harvested fish. This arrangement will allow the NIMO to concentrate on the harvesting and delivery of fish products and will not need to waste its time trying to locate fish buyers.
“In addition, the fish products may be sold and distributed through other willing vendors on Saipan that are already selling fresh fish products on a daily basis. This will allow the fishing community to improve and increase its catch level and gain added economic benefit,” he said.