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By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, Setp. 14) – About 30 fisheries experts from around the Pacific are meeting this week in Majuro in the International Conference on Sustainable Fishery and Aquaculture Development in Pacific Islands.

A Marshall Islands official took the opportunity at the conference opening yesterday to call for "responsible fishing and sustainable management" of tuna in the region.

Sponsored by the Taiwan government, the meeting has brought together top fisheries researchers, industry representatives and government fisheries experts from Taiwan with government fisheries officials from the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Kiribati and Fiji.

In addition, Forum Fisheries Agency director Feleti Teo and commercial fishing heavyweight James Tsai, chairman of the Tuna Purse Seine Committee of the Taiwan Tuna Association, will be in attendance later this week.

President Kessai Note and four Cabinet ministers attended Monday’s opening ceremony.

Taiwan Ambassador Lien-gene Chen said at yesterday’s opening ceremony that his country wanted to share its expertise in sustainable fisheries and aquaculture development with its diplomatic allies and friends in the Pacific.

Acting Minister of Resources and Development Witten Philippo said the Marshall Islands has great interest in sustainable fisheries because many of its coastal fish species "are under pressure of being depleted."

The Marshall Islands supports "responsible fisheries and sustainable management" at the national, regional and international levels, he said.

"There is a global interest in collectively managing (fisheries) resources," he said.

The Marshall Islands looked forward to seeing the full establishment in Pohnpei of a new Tuna Commission, which will oversee a tuna conservation convention for the high seas that recently went into effect, and to the treaty "being fully complied with by all."

Later in the week the group is expected to tour a privately-operated clam farm on Majuro, and a government-supported giant clam operation on neighboring Arno Atoll.

September 14, 2004

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