Friday, February 14, 2014

Tuna and Coconut: the "tuconomics" of Micronesian economy

photo from Lisa William-Lahari in Pacific-Journos
FSMIS (February 14, 2014): This week, two important gatherings take place in the Pacific region. One of them is wrapping up today in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, comprising of delegates from member countries in the Asia and Pacific Coconut Community (APCC) for their 50th session. The other one is held in Noumea, New Caledonia, for the Pacific Islands News Agency (PINA) during which an attractive panel involving the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) discussed "Tunanomics".

During the APCC opening presentations, countries shared their varied experiences through which the "tree of life" -- the coconut palm -- has pillared economic boost and expanded into a viable revenue-generating industry.

For the PINA panel, speakers delved into the "fish story" for the islands. In this meeting, pacific journalists and media folks were told that the fishing industry in the Western and Central Pacific (this region includes Micronesia) is worth $6 billion a year according to the FFA Director. And that the island countries benefit out of this is around 8 to 15 percent.

photo from Sr. Erencia Saipwerik's facebook

The FSM has strong interest in both of these stories. As it was mentioned in the FSM Department of Resource and Development press release on the APCC meeting, the FSM is working on boosting its own coco industry. As a matter of fact, the FSM Petroleum Corporation has been involved in this project.

On the fisheries side, the FSM National Oceanic Resources Management Agency (NORMA), has been active in the Pacific-wide negotiations and interventions with countries and regions looking to the "Pacific waters" for fishing. There has been noticeable increase in FSM's fisheries revenues in very recent years, bending upward from an annual yield of around $16 million to around $24 million.

During the APCC meeting, the FSM Coconut Development Authority (CDA) shared some of its challenges that have seriously hampered development in the coconut sector -- challenges worsened by the breakdown of effective inter-island ship transport within all the States in FSM. For this reason, production has been low and the volume of coco-based products are only enough for the local market in Pohnpei.

CDA is to coco industry as NORMA is to ocean industry. Both have the potential to take the FSM on respectable development plateau.

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