ROTA—Thirteen students from the Dr. Rita H. Inos Jr./ Sr. High School were each given fishing rods and other fishing accessories last Saturday in a ceremony at Teteto Beach as part of their participation in Tasi to Table Inc., signaling the program’s further expansion to the CNMI’s southernmost island.
Each of the students received high-quality Daiwa fishing rods, lines, hooks, tackle boxes, and lure-tying handbooks. The rods were sourced through the Department of Lands and Natural Resources, and the tackle boxes and handbooks were given to TTT by Fishing Tackle and Sporting Goods.
Sophomore student Landon Atalig was one of the 13 to receive new gear. He was a part of team Hagu Reel, who placed first at TTT’s Youth Experiential Derby that was held on June 12 at the Smiling Cove Marina. His team reeled in a 100-lb marlin. He was excited to receive gear on Saturday, and encouraged RHI students who are still considering joining TTT to give it a try. “They should join us, because it makes a big difference and helps the younger generation,” said Atalig.
In his remarks at the event, TTT president Gene Weaver said the organization already had expansion plans in the works since last year, but had to put these plans on hold due to the pandemic. Starting with Tinian on April 24 and followed by Rota on May 1, TTT was able to follow through on expansion and launched four-month pilot programs on Tinian and Rota this year.
Weaver also said that TTT does not only teach the youth how to fish, but also many other life lessons. Through the program, Weaver said the organization also helps expose students to career paths in fishing, and serves as a means of promoting mental health, suicide prevention, and teen pregnancy prevention, among others.
“We’re trying to instill life lessons skills to the students. …Our goal is to teach skills that can carry on to the next generation. …We’re passing on these skills to the students,” said Weaver.
Tasi to Table’s presence in Rota was made possible through the Rota Municipal Council of the Rota Mayor’s Office and the 18th RMC. In separate interviews after the event, both Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig and 18th Rota Municipal Council chair Jim Atalig expressed their support of the organization. Also present at the event were members of TTT’s board of directors and other members of the 18th RMC.
“I’m really supportive of this program because it’s a way to prolong the culture, and a way for our kids to learn how to fish for themselves and their families, also commercial. There’s money to be made in fishing. … I really support this program, and any [program] that will improve the lives of our youth,” said Efraim Atalig.
“ [TTT] means a lot for the kids because we’re preparing them for the future, and the traditions will be carried on [through] this program,” said Jim Atalig.
Tasi to Table seeks to share with the youth the joys of fishing. TTT first began with a six-month program for the Da’Ok Academy in summer 2019, and started an eight-month program for Saipan’s high school students in 2020. TTT launched Tinian and Rota branches this summer, first testing out a four-month pilot program with hopes to begin an eight-month program on both islands next school year. Students who participate and complete TTT’s programs earn elective credit hours that go towards high school graduation.