I have been working with Herman Tudela, leader of the traditional fishermen's group, since last year. Herman first came to me to seek my assistance in getting a permanent boat launch site designated for the local fishermen to launch their small fishing boats from the Lau Lau Bay lagoon. The Saipan Tribune ran a story on this today. You can read the article here.
After our initial meeting, I arranged for our first on-site visit in order to gain a better understanding of the issue. I invited Angelo Villagomez, Public Involvement Coordinator for Marianas Resource Conservation Development, to assist me in helping the fishermen. Gen Cabrera, historian for the Historic Preservation Office at the time, was also present. Here are some photographs taken that day.
I am a firm believer in maintaining our traditional cultural practices while respecting the need to maintain our laws and regulations necessary to preserve and conserve our natural resources. The right balance of both must be achieved. This is something I often find myself constantly seeking and promoting.
To optimize the chance of brokering a good compromise between what the fishermen want and what our laws mandate our various regulatory agencies to enforce, I felt it best to go the quiet diplomacy route. This led to two onsite meetings -- the one in November memorialized in the above pictures and one held a month later in December 2006. I will post pictures of the second on-site visit later.