Sen. Vinnie F. Sablan (Ind-Saipan) has introduced a bill that would allow the use of surround nets when harvesting bigeye scad (atulai) on Saipan and the Northern Islands during its season.
Senate Bill 21-24 would amend the law to legalize the use of surround nets or chenchulun umesugon. The method is prohibited under Public Law 12-14 or the Fair Fishing Act of 2000 that was co-authored by former representatives Jesus T. Attao, Alejo M. Mendiola Jr., and Norman S. Palacios.
Sablan said it has been 18 years since the use of surround nets or chenchulus was prohibited by P.L. 12-14, which was originality intended to protect the marine resources in the CNMI’s territorial waters.
He assured that, under his proposed measure, all other non-traditional fishing methods are still prohibited.
“[P.L. 12-14] is certainly a noble intent. With proper control mechanisms through enforcement and regulations, we should be able to allow the usage of surround nets to supplement our people’s family subsistence living due to many social and economic realities,” said Sablan.
“Many fishermen have informed me that they have noticed an abundance of healthy schools of the bigeye scad (atulai) fish species on their seasonal runs,” he added.
S.B. 21-24 pointed out that drag nets (chenchulun lagua), surround nets (chenchulun umesngon), and trap nets (chenchulun managam) are already allowed fishing methods on Rota and Tinian.
These three fishing methods are used in catching bigeye scad (atulai) and juvenile goatfish (tiao) during its seasonal run off the waters of Rota and Tinian.
The first-term senator, who represented Precinct 4 in the 19th and 20th House of Representatives, said his office would be soliciting comments from different sectors of the community—the public, various government agencies, and the private sector. “[The comments] would present any findings that will help us amend the bill to improve its intent.”
For more information, call Sablan’s office at 664-8803 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are already several laws related to non-traditional fishing methods, with some prohibiting such practices.
P.L. 12-77 itself is a blanket prohibition on non-traditional fishing methods within the entire waters of the CNMI.