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SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 19, 2001 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Local communities in rural areas are best suited to manage their local marine resources, an international conference in Fiji has been told.

According to Dr. Colin Hunt, of Papua New Guinea's National Research Institute, the authority of local people should be strengthened and supported by national and provincial governments.

Dr. Hunt is the lead resource person at a three-day workshop that started in Nadi yesterday and ends tomorrow.

Participants are addressing challenges for commodity based development and diversification.

Dr. Hunt is the lead person in the key workshop sessions on forestry and marine resources.

The workshop, focusing on the Pacific, is one of a series being held around the world. The Nadi meeting is being attended by government officials from many Pacific island nations, together with academics and private-sector representatives.

Dr. Hunt said the Western Central Pacific Ocean contributes about half of the world’s canning tuna.

The fishery already contributes considerable income, mainly in the form of access fees from distant water fleets that deliver their catches to canneries elsewhere, he said.

Dr. Hunt emphasized that deals involving the waiving of fishing license fees in exchange for onshore investment and domestication of fleets should be subject to the test of domestic value added to answer the question: "Will the country be better off collecting license fees, or by encouraging domestication to tap a range of benefits associated with the purchase of goods and services and the employment of nationals?"

He said that tuna canneries in the region have experienced very hard times, with the RD cannery in Madang the only tuna cannery producing in Melanesia.

He said that the canneries of the region will always face fierce competition from efficient canneries in Asia, Europe and the U.S. and profitability may be elusive.

Dr. Hunt said that the over-capitalization in the world’s tuna fleets has been highlighted by the recent fall in the price of tuna.

However, he said that the development of mechanisms for cohesively addressing a limit on fishing efforts in the Western Central Pacific Ocean is still some way off.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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

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