GARAPAN Saipan — A Seattle-based commercial fishing group has signified its interest in operating in the Northern Mariana Islands.

However the Commonwealth Development Authority indicated that the company would have to submit significant additional information before its request to obtain a CDA-guaranteed loan for $600 000 from a bank can be approved.

The loan being sought will be used to relocate two of the fishing company’s long-line vessels from North America to the CNMI and initialize funding for a processing and marketing office on Saipan according to the Department of Commerce.

The company Lady Kimberly Inc. also plans to set up a fishermen’s cooperative hire from the local workforce for all phases of the fishing venture and donate to selected children’s charities.

Marylou S. Ada executive director of the authority told the Journal that Lady Kimberly’s request will go through a careful examination. “This company has a lot of work to be done. They need to convince us.” She said the CDA needs to review a feasibility study from Lady Kimberly that details how it plans to relocate the vessels open and operate an office on Saipan and create a fishermen’s cooperative.

Whichever bank Lady Kimberly applies to for the $600 000 will review the company’s credentials then forward the application to the CDA once all documents are in place. After approving the loan CDA will shoulder the payments if the company hits bankruptcy.

“We will have our own evaluation [of the loan application]. We want to know if the project can promote exportation of fish to Asian markets provide jobs and stimulate the economy ” Ada said. “It’s our fiduciary duty.” She said no formal document has been forwarded to her office from Lady Kimberly for review.

Courtney L. Zietzke the company’s owner made a presentation regarding the venture before CDA officials on Oct. 3.

According to the proposal Lady Kimberly will unconditionally pledge the two long-line fishing vessels to CDA and the bank for the loan so that it could start operations. Zietzke in a statement issued to the Department of Commerce said the vessels have been surveyed and insured at $1.8 million. He said his company needs total funding of $1.2 million.

Zietzke said his company plans to fish outside of the CNMI’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone to avoid competing with local fishermen who operate within 20 nautical miles from shore. He said the long-line fishing vessels would land all catch at the Port of Saipan where it will be processed and sold internationally. Long-line fishing is a commercial fishing technique that uses hundreds or even thousands of baited hooks hanging from a single line. Long-line catches include swordfish and tuna.

Zietzke said opportunities for the local fishing fleet are substantial. The local fishermen will be marketing larger fish he said and will be participating in a locally based company. They will moreover own up to 30% of the equity he said.

The local fishermen’s cooperative will also be marketing by-catch species on Saipan he said.

“This project is a win-win for everybody concerned ” Zietke said in a statement to the department. “The local people gain good-paying permanent employment and equity opportunities.” He said the company also plans to buy all vessel supplies from local vendors which he said would boost profitability of a support industry.

Zietzke said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the Western Fisheries Zone issued a federal long-line fishing permit to Lady Kimberly. MBJ