Guam - Over the last four days the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council has been meeting in Guam listening to concerns from local fishermen. The Council has authority over federally managed fisheries in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI. Local fishermen and other attendees voiced their concerns about a mutltitude of issues impacting the island's fishing communities such as a lack of access to safe and unpolluted drinking grounds, shark depredation, rising fuel coss, lack of fisheries spport, competition from FSM citizens and Endangered Species Act initiatives.
According to a press release, Guam Fishermen's Coop President Manuel Duenas told the Council that the situation is at a point where he is ready to quit fishing. He said that shark depredation, as well as the cost for fuel and fishing supplies, has increased and is negatively impacting Guam's fishing community. "We don't have an industry, it's a community," he said. Manuel added that fishermen sell only a few fish to cover expenses and the rest is distributed to feed family and neighbors.
Others expressed their concerns about limited access to fishing grounds such as marine protected areas or MPA's and pollution also restrict access to safe waters whey they can fish."Do not oppress the people who put food on the table," said Ernest T. Chargualaf, mayor of Merizo (Malesso). He stated that, when Guam's marine preserves were established, there was supposed to be open rotation. He also said the Guam Department of Agriculture is spending more money addressing deer, which were imported to Guam, than it is on fish, which are a native food source.
The Council responded to the public comments, scientific presentations and advisory group recommendations with the following actions, among others: