Majority of the members of the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation support the Micronesian Islands Nature Alliance’s request for assistance last Wednesday.
Though a handful of delegation members weren’t present at Wednesday’s session, at least more than half attended the MINA presentation, said delegation chair Rep. John Paul Sablan (R-Saipan).
“Everybody supports environmental cleanups, beautifications, and [damage] preventions, so this is a given; everyone is concerned for our environment,” he said.
MINA, led by board chair Frances Castro, said it needs $150,000 to continue operations, which mostly consist of doing beach cleanups and advocating for the cleanliness of the environment.
They also asked the delegation for a $2-million endowment in order to participate in the Micronesia Challenge—a commitment signed back in 2006 by the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Palau, Guam, and the CNMI to preserve their natural resources.
“As chairman right now, most likely [the delegation] would appropriate the $150,000. More than half of the members were here [and they] were offering their support,” said Sablan.
As for the Micronesia Challenge, Sablan believes that that is more of a “Commonwealth-wide” effort.
“…I feel that it is not only the Saipan and Northern Islands’ obligation, but also Tinian and Rota’s, so we need to tackle the $2 million as a Commonwealth body in the Legislature,” he said, adding that Gov. Ralph DLG Torres has already initiated discussions. Sablan did not specify who Torres was in discussion with.
In a separate interview, Castro said that MINA’s funding has been diminished by several federal cuts.
“…MINA does not really benefit from [the funding], it’s the community and the environment. As we all know, the environment is really our economy,” she said, adding that tourists are attracted to coral reefs and beaches.
The four-man crew of MINA, two of which are rangers, would be supported by the $150,000 appropriation, said Castro.
She added that it would also go to the purchasing of equipment for the operations of MINA, such as plastic bags for beach cleanups.