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By Jojo Dass

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (July 6, 2001 - Marianas Variety/PINA Nius Online)---Noting economic losses due to flies infesting the islands’ fruit, Senator David Cing and Rota Mayor Benjamin Manglona urged Guam to join in a Marianas-wide effort to address the problem.

In a letter to Guam Gov. Carl T.C. Gutierrez, Cing urged that negotiations by the local governments with the U.S. departments of the Interior and Agriculture be re-activated.

This is to ensure that funding is made available and that an eradication project is implemented.

Cing and Manglona said Northern Marianas’ efforts alone to address the infestation would be futile because fruit flies from Guam would again eventually find their way into the Northern Marianas through Rota.

"Addressing the fruit fly problem must be made region wide; otherwise exclusive efforts on the part of the CNMI would not only be ineffective, but also counterproductive," Cing said.

"I urge you to bring the territory of Guam back to the negotiation table to resume collaborative efforts with representatives in addressing the increasing fruit fly problem," the Senator added.

Cing and Manglona said while the Northern Marianas has a relatively thriving fruit crop -- cantaloupes, oranges, watermelons, and bananas among others -- it cannot export to neighboring Asian countries or Guam because of fruit fly infestation.

Negotiations were first undertaken in the early 1990s. Manglona was then the Lieutenant Governor and the head of the Northern Marianas panel that held official talks with the federal government.

Manglona said a "partnership agreement" with Japan's Okinawa island to the northwest was nearing implementation at the time.

Under the agreement, Okinawa was to assist the Northern Marianas in eradicating the fruit flies through a technology it had developed. But project funding was also needed.

The proposed agreement did not materialize, according to Manglona, because nobody followed up on it after his term ended in 1994.

Also, then Guam Governor Joseph Ada opted out of the negotiations, Cing said.

Fruit flies’ larvae feed on ripening fruits, causing them to spoil.

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