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By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, Nov. 1) — Marine life in Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands, is being over-fished by the growing urban population and damaged by increasing pollution, said a joint report from the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority and Japan’s Overseas Fisheries Cooperation Foundation that was released Friday.

Survey findings indicate that the size and variety of fish are decreasing and that pollution continues to damage the marine environment.

Majuro, with an estimated population of about 25,000, accounts for nearly half this central Pacific nation’s citizens."The survey shows that the condition of fisheries resources along Majuro Atoll (is) getting worse," the OFCF/MIMRA report said.

Barring serious corrective action, the situation will worsen, which will cause fish supply problems for island residents and not leave sufficient stocks for future generations of Majuro people, the report said. This will cause additional spinoff problems, the report said, including that people will depend more heavily on imported meats that increase health problems, while traditional marine culture will be lost.

"What we’re trying to do is implement some sort of a fisheries management plan," said OFCF fisheries technical expert Manabu Echigo who worked on the survey. "If the program is implemented, the community has to work with government officials in order for the management to work out."

The fisheries survey involved interviews with restaurants, small takeout owners, fishermen, women, students and fishery groups to gather information on the status of the marine environment and people’s attitudes about fish and marine life.

The survey pointed out that "fisheries management includes many sensitive, serious and complicated issues." Because of this, the participation of everyone involved is very important to create an effective management system, the survey said.

Problems that have caused the over-exploitation of Majuro’s fisheries include the lack of regulation of fishing in the capital atoll. Majuro’s large population has increased the demand for fish, and more people are involved in fishing to earn money, the report said.

November 1, 2004

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