Gov. Ralph DLG Torres sees commercial—and sustainable—fishing as an industry in the CNMI that could open business opportunities for local fishermen, like the ones being done by the Commonwealth’s Pacific island neighbors.
Torres, who just arrived from the weeklong 15th regular session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meeting at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu, said that one of the meeting’s highlights was an acknowledgement of the importance of the CNMI having a sustainable fishing industry.
The meeting ended last Friday.
One of the topics at the meeting is the effort being done by the United States to increase the catch limit in the Pacific, which is the world’s largest fishing ground for tuna. The U.S. is pushing for a quota of 4,600 tons.
“It was a worthy trip and we met with the [WCPFC] leadership. They acknowledged the importance of the CNMI in playing a greater role in [the region’s] quota and having a sustainable fishing industry here,” Torres told Saipan Tribune in yesterday’s GOP appreciation party at the Minatchom Atdao pavilion.
“We…would like to experiment in having our own fishing industry here. We look forward to the young generation to take up fishing and strengthen this industry. I hope that this [will be] something that we [can] look forward in providing business opportunities for commercial fishing in our area.”
But careful study is needed before jumping right in. “First to consider is the capacity. We really need to do more experimental testing with fisheries. Learn the type of fishing migration that we have here. Whether it is big eye tuna, skipjack, or yellow fin.”
“Then put a package for business opportunity for other fishermen to come to our region. Because we have fishing regions like the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Hawaii, Japan, and Chinese-Taipei. It is in our side of the world that we need to have more opportunity for fishing.”
Torres emphasized at the meeting the CNMI’s aspiration to take advantage of the resources around it in a sustainable and responsible way.
“We have fisheries resources…but lack access to capital needed to institute large-scale fisheries operations. In this regard, the CNMI is interested in how the Commission can assist some members and territories to obtain increased benefits and capacity derived from the tuna fisheries.”
He also thanked the leadership of the WCPFC. “On behalf of the people
The CNMI is among the seven participating territories of the 26-member WCPFC, which was established to manage tuna stock in the western and central regions of the Pacific.