[Coral-List] tuna caging in RMI - possible solutions!?

Spurgeon, James James.Spurgeon at jacobs.com
Tue Aug 17 11:55:43 EDT 2004

> Dear Silvia (and listers)
> A few thoughts based on the brief details you provided:
> To the Government, the choice may unfortunately appear to be a no brainer
> - either they go for the tuna farm and earn many thousands of dollars each
> year, or opt for the MPA/ecotourism approach and spend money they don't
> have to obtain some unpredictable and uncertain future benefits/revenues
> (a simple decision based on perceived costs and benefits). 
> It therefore seems that you have three main options (other than doing
> nothing): 
> 1) Try to block/reverse the decision.  If you can put across sufficient
> details and a persuasive enough argument (eg relating to the potential
> impacts and significance of the atoll's reef community) you could get a
> powerful NGO, the scientific community, and/or local people to petition
> the Government to reverse the decision.  
> 2) Make the most of the situation.  If there is no way the Government will
> reverse its decision, then make sure that everything is done to minimise
> the impacts and ensure that maximum compensation is obtained for the
> environment.  Pressure the Government to i) make sure a full EIA is
> conducted for a variety of alternative locations, ii) ensure appropriate
> mitigation measures and monitoring programmes are put in place iii) ensure
> that all residual adverse impacts are adequately evaluated and compensated
> for iv) ensure that the Government uses a reasonable proportion of the
> revenues obtained to re-invest in sustainable management of environmental
> resources v) make sure that the company re-instates the environment to its
> state prior to the development and compensate for any residual damages.   
> 3) Encourage the Government to re-assess all the options.   Ideally the
> Government should have a long-term national strategy for managing the
> Islands' resources.  This should involve assessing the status of current
> resources and determining what the alternative options are for conserving,
> utilizing and/or developing them in the future.  A strategic national
> decision should also be made as to which atolls/reefs should be given
> protection (e.g. MPAs and reserves etc).  An estimation of the overall
> coastal resource values as well as the economic costs and benefits (e.g.
> welfare values and revenues) from the alternative options should help
> determine the optimum decision.  This approach can help demonstrate the
> significant values of protected areas as well as identifying the optimum
> location (if any) for a tuna farm. 
> For each of the above options, the concept of Total Economic Value of
> coral reefs and coastal resources could be usefully applied.  In
> particular, long term non-use and tourism values should be considered, as
> well as direct and indirect fishery values.  By considering the long-term
> impacts of the tuna farm on the full range of values, the cost/benefit
> ratio may seem very different. The most tricky dilemma to be faced would
> be assessing and capitalizing on the non-use values (i.e. people's
> willingness to contribute to maintaining the atolls despite never visiting
> them).  These would undoubtedly make up the majority of the value in such
> remote locations, but are often deemed irrelevant unless they can be
> captured (appropriated).  What will be critical to the Marshall Islands
> and other places where pristine corals still exist, is innovative means of
> appropriating such values which the Government/local communities will
> benefit from!  
> A variant of the third option was recently undertaken in America Samoa
> (reported on in Okinawa) and is planned for other US territories in the
> Pacific.  Such "values-based" approaches can provide a powerful foundation
> for optimum coastal/coral resource management and development decisions.
> There is a real need to educate key decision-makers and other stakeholders
> about long term sustainably used coral reefs values!
> We hope the above helps.
	If you want more specific details/explanations on any of the above,
let us know.

> James and Toby
> James Spurgeon
> (Executive Environmental Economist/Scientist)
> Toby Roxburgh
> (Senior Environmental Scientist)
> Jacobs
> Tel: +44 (0)118 963 5346
> Fax: +44 (0)118 926 3888 
> E-mail: james.spurgeon at jacobs.com 
> Web: www.jacobs.com
> www.gibbltd.com
-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov]On Behalf Of Silvia Pinca
Sent: Tuesday, August 17, 2004 10:45 AM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] tuna caging in RMI

Dear all, 

once again we have a serious and sad attempt to 
start a new enterprise in RMI that is not at all 
attentive to the waters and corals around this 
still semi-pristine country. Shark fishing picked up 
2 years ago and is still running, but now they 
want to start tuna caging in one of the most 
pristine atolls in the country. As researchers attached 
to the College of the Marshall Islands (CMI) we 
visited the place twice during our researches for 
resource assessments and conservation. Three 
years ago the government approached CMI and the 
related biologists asking help for analyzing the coral 
reefs of the un-inhabited atoll of Rongelap in 
order to  find good areas to protect and to use as 
spots for what was to be developed as an 
eco-tourism activity. Now, after two years of research 
and reports suggesting the ideal location for MPAs 
and sanctuaries, the atoll government just signed 
a contract to start growing yellofin tuna in 
cages, feeding it with African sardines, and 
fattening it 
for the sashimi market. No information on the 
location for these cages, but even the passes could 
be a dangerous spot, since the incoming current 
would transport the feed and excreta around the 
lagoon and on its corals - as a model from E. 
Peterson recently presented at Okinawa suggests. 

Any ideas or strong tools we can receive to try 
to convince these people they are playing with a 
dangerous weapon? On the side, the local 
government will receive 25% of the income produced by the 
US tuna caging enterprise.  

 Thank you all, feel free to forward this message 
to appropriate lists and people,


Silvia Pinca, Ph.D.
Marine Science Program Coordinator
College of the Marshall Islands
P.O. Box 1258, Majuro, MH 96960
ph. (692)-625-5903
ph. in Italy until March 12th: 333 597 8963
spinca at nras-conservation.org
milviapin at yahoo.com
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