Dept. of Agriculture Disputes Fed Report; No Direct Link Between Drownings and Preserves

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Guam – The Guam Department of Agriculture has released a statement disputing a recent report from the Western Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Council  [WPRFMC]which claimed that the establishment of Marine Preserves around Guam has increased the risk of drowning for the island’s fishermen.

The WPRMC report suggested a link between the drowning rates on Guam and the implementation of the Marine Preserves. The report argued that the creation of the preserves pushed Chamorro fisherman to more dangerous areas around the island to fish and has led to a higher rate of drowning.

However, according to a news release from the Department of Agriculture today [Thursday],  the Department of Agriculture concludes:

“After extensive review, the Guam Department of Agriculture has concluded that the report released by the Western Pacific Fisheries Management Council doe snot demonstrate any direct link between the establishment of Marine Preserves on Guam and the drowning rate of fishermen.”

The WPRFMC report found that 68 fishermen have lost their lives in Guam waters between 1986 and 2009.

But the Guam Department of Agriculture responds that these fishing fatalities “occurred on all sides of the island.” And prior to the creation of the preserves, “6 Chamorro fishermen, and an undisclosed number of non-Chamorro fishermen, drowned in areas that eventually became the Piti, Tumon and Achang Marine Preserves.”

“All waters around Guam can be very dangerous,” states the Guam Department of Agriculture release. “Even sites like Tumon Bay and Piti Bay. Although these areas were referred to as safe area in the [WPRMC] report, numerous lives have been claimed in these two locations.”

The Guam Department of Agriculture also concludes that their analysis indicates that there was no change in the overall rate of drownings of the island’s fishermen.