Along with creating a new home the Fisherman’s Co Op is casting its line on another new venture.

Manny Duenas president of the Fisherman’s Cooperative said the cooperative purchased a longliner vessel in an effort to continue to provide more fish to its customers “When we were applying for one of our grants we realized through one of the statistics the government had that we import $32 million worth of fish a year into this island.” He said “This is fish that is ours. It’s caught by foreign boats and brought back to us and we’re buying it. It’s kind of ridiculous.”

The cooperative was able to purchase the vessel through a grant “We applied for a grant with the Western Pacific Fisheries Council and NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] to get into longline fishing.”

According to Duenas Guam was not the first to realize the opportunity or potential.“Hawaii has a longline fleet of about 160 boats and 110 are active.” He said “They produce about $250 million for their economy just for the state of Hawaii. So we figured we can get at least one boat going and contribute to Guam’s economy and develop a cottage industry.”

The cooperative purchased a former 60-foot Yamaha boat and converted it into a longline fishing vessel. “We’re going to put a 21-mile long line on this vessel and hopefully we can target tunas marlin and sword fish and other species that are available around our island. We want to provide the freshest quality product to the people of Guam ” Duenas said.

The cooperative was able to purchase the vessel at $155 000. Duenas said “The Co op provided about $35 000 as its financial commitment to get this project going. All together it’s about a $200 000 venture. It’s well worth it I think. If we fail then at least we can say that we tried and that we were willing to take on the challenge but I know we are going to succeed.”

Duenas said Guam’s fish stock just like other fisheries globally are regulated by countries around the world. He said Guam is allocated about 2 000 metric tons annually.

He said there is a danger in that Guam could lose portions of its allocation to other countries and that the longliner is a step towards protecting the island’s share.

The vessel can hold 5 000 pounds of fish during a three to five-day fishing trip. Duenas said the 450 horsepower Detroit Diesel motor creates a cruising speed of about 12 knots. A captain and a crew of five will man the longliner. The boat is also equipped with GPS sounders and radar.

Duenas said the cooperative is willing to assist the U.S. Coast Guard in enforcement of Guam’s Exclusive Economic Zone. He said the cooperative wants to ensure that other longliners are not violating any laws. MBJ