STUDY TO LOOK INTO GUAM FISH FARM POSSIBILITIES

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By Scott Radway Pacific Daily News

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (August 14, 2001 – Pacific Daily News)---Guam is getting ready to test the waters for salmon and rainbow trout farming with a study on the environmental and economic conditions needed to create that type of commerce here.

The Guam Economic Development Authority has received three proposals from businesses wanting to conduct a salmon and rainbow trout farming feasibility study, said Leigh Lujan, GEDA's industry development manager. The agency will choose one firm and begin negotiations within a month, she added.

At the same time, a group of Norwegian investors continues to study the island as a possible site for a salmon farm, Lujan said.

The Norwegian proposal to build a 25-acre fish farm has been floating around for more than a year. Last August, GEDA officials said the group was "99 percent" sure that it wanted to build on Guam.

Lujan said that for a complicated, first-time venture such as salmon farming on Guam, development is often slow.

"A capital investment like this sometimes takes two to three years to obtain any kind of commitment," Lujan said, adding that GEDA officials speak with the Norwegian group almost every week.

In July 2000, the price tag for the proposed fish farm -- once a suitable site is located -- was $30 million, according to Pacific Daily News files. The Norwegian group continues to look for farm sites on Guam, Lujan said.

GEDA officials view the fishing industry as an extremely viable venue for economic growth on the island. There is an abundant source of fish here, good ports, and the island is near large markets including Japan, Lujan said.

The proposed Norwegian fish farm could employ as many as 150 people, GEDA officials have said. As well, the export of salmon from Guam might create additional shipping lines for Guam's fishing companies, Lujan said.

GEDA officials have been talking with other aquaculture groups to try to attract them to the island, Lujan said. The feasibility study would give GEDA officials hard data needed to sell Guam as a viable site for such fish farms, Lujan said.

Lujan said it is unknown how much the study will cost. The project will be awarded on the basis of qualifications, and then the cost will be negotiated, Lujan said.

GEDA officials have begun the process of searching out possible grants to pay for the study if the cost is more than the agency's budget allows, Lujan added.

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

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