Sharks are eating onaga and other fish faster than fishermen can reel them in, compromising the quality and amount of fish that can be harvested in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, according to the territory’s acting governor, Victor Hocog.

He asked the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council on Monday to work with CNMI on regulations affecting his people.

“The greatest predator is the sharks … not the human,” Hocog said in a news release that Wespac issued Monday.

From left, Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council Chair Edwin Ebisui Jr., CNMI Acting Gov. Victor Hocog and Council Executive Director Kitty Simonds at the opening of Wespac's meeting in Garapan, CNMI.

From left, Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council Chair Edwin Ebisui Jr., CNMI Acting Gov. Victor Hocog and Council Executive Director Kitty Simonds at the opening of Wespac’s meeting in Garapan, CNMI.

Courtesy: Wespac

He delivered the opening remarks on the council’s first day of meetings in CNMI and Guam this week.

“If you put 12 hooks down to catch onaga, ehu, whatever it is, you are very lucky when you pick up three out of the 12 on the hook because of the shark infestation around our islands,” Hocog said.

CNMI is on the verge of developing infrastructure for its expanding tourism industry and the hotels would need high-grade fish, according to the release. The quality of the fish is seriously compromised when sharks remove the head or body of the fish, the release said.

“I humbly ask this Council to consider the state our people are faced with,” Hocog said in the release. “I choose to ask the Council in the days ahead on this meeting to give serious thoughts and consideration [on how we can] work together and achieve what islanders need without compromising standards.”

Read more about the first day of the meeting here.

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