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By Edith G. Alejandro

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (August 24, 2001 - Saipan Tribune/PINA Nius Online)---Members of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures are encouraging the development of a strong regional fishing cooperative arrangement among member states.

The move results from concerns over the lack of development of the fisheries sector among the island nations in the Western Pacific Region.

At a recent association meeting in the Northern Marianas, it was pointed out that it would be more beneficial to encourage local people to be active participants in the fishing industry rather than allow foreign commercial vessels to fish local waters.

Despite its own rich sea resources, the Northern Marianas consistently imports more and more fish products from other Micronesian and Asian countries.

This is in spite of the central and western Pacific Ocean being home to the world's largest tuna fishery, which is currently worth approximately $1.7 billion a year.

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

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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