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By Lindablue F. Romero

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (October 30, 1998 - Saipan Tribune)---While the island is suffering from a slowdown in tourism economy, officials are taking this opportunity to carry out a massive cleanup of various beaches.

With limited budget, tourism officials are looking for ways to fund trash collection and acquisition of beach cleaning equipment. But the biggest problem which the Marianas Visitors Authority (MVA) has to immediately resolve is to improve the quality of water on the beaches.

As a first step, the MVA met with the Division of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Department of Public Works and the Coastal Resources Management to find ways how these various agencies can help prevent water pollution, which endangers the half-a-billion-dollar-a-year tourism industry.

Dave M. Sablan, board chairman, said the different agencies of the government must share the responsibility of ensuring the cleanliness of the beaches.

The Hotel Association of Northern Mariana Islands earlier said hotel operators will soon have to post a notice in hotel rooms to warn tourists against swimming in polluted waters.

Water samples taken by DEQ showed that various beaches on Saipan are contaminated with fecal coliform, which may require warning people against swimming and fishing.

Likewise, the Japan-Saipan Travel Association has told officials about the importance of resolving the problem, noting that Saipan's crystal clear waters and fine beaches are some of the reasons why the Northern Marianas is a popular destination among Japanese.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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