Sunday, December 22, 2013

The World Flies By

Saipan and Tinian
Whenever I fly from Saipan to Japan, I try to sit on the right side of the plane in the hopes that I'll see the Northern Islands.  The islands come up quick after takeoff.  Uracus is only about 300 miles from Saipan and the plane is hurtling through the sky at about 500 miles per hour.

Last Monday I flew from Guam to Narita, and although it was too cloudy to see any of the Northern Islands, I saw Rota, Tinian, and Saipan.  From 30,000 feet up and several miles out, Saipan doesn't even look inhabited.  It is humbling to see the center of your universe in such a way.

I had just come from a fisheries meeting in Australia where the official CNMI position was in line with that of the Hawaiian longline fleet, in opposition to the position of the Micronesia countries trying to set sustainable catches. The fisheries meeting ran as all the governors and presidents of the Micronesia region met in Saipan to discuss the immigration impacts of the US Compact of Free Association (and sharks!), which would be lessened if the Micronesian islands had more control over their fisheries and economic self-sufficiency, which the CNMI was opposing.

The whole situation was very disappointing.  I'd like to see the CNMI and Guam, which do not export tuna, supporting Palau, FSM, and the Marshall Islands, which depend on tuna to keep the lights on.  As I flew over Saipan, I wondered how many people living there were even aware this was going on, and if this particular dynamic was discussed between the island leaders?

I'd like my island to do better, but the wheels that have brought us to this particular place have been spinning for decades.

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