Program for Development of Outer Island....
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GRANT NUMBER: NA27FD0145-01           NMFS NUMBER: 91-SWR-051

REPORT TITLE:  Program for Development of Outer Island Fisheries in Marshall Islands

AUTHOR:  Hart, Kevin

PUBLISH DATE: April 1995

AVAILABLE FROM:  National Marine Fisheries Service, Southwest Regional Office, 501 West Ocean Boulevard, Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802-4018.  PHONE: (562) 980-4033


In the RMl almost all economic development activities are concentrated in Majuro and to a lesser extent, Arno and Kwajelein Atolls.  Until recently few development efforts extended to the outer atolls of the RMI (in part because economic opportunities on these atolls are limited).  Copra, the traditional cash crop in the outer atolls, has fluctuated greatly in price and production levels in the 1990s. (During the last 10 years copra prices declined in both relative and absolute terms).  Given the lack of opportunity for gainful employment and declining copra prices, emigration to the urban centers is significant, placing considerable burden on public and private sector services. The outlook for discouraging migration to the urban centers appears poor unless individuals can be convinced economic opportunities do exist in the outer atolls. One way to do this is to develop cash-generating opportunities in the outer atolls. 

In May 1991, a private entrepreneur (a local boat builder) obtained S-K support for a project with the goal of demonstrating that dried fish products could increase per capita income in the outer atolls of the RMI. The project objectives were to examine methods of capture, preservation, and processing allowing for the export of dried fish products from the outer atolls to municipal centers in the RMI. The project proposed the formulation of production units by family groups or clans in which certain familial members were responsible for capture of fish, while others were responsible for processing and marketing, etc. Technical assistance was provided to demonstrate fish drying, smoking techniques, and marketing strategies.  In addition, records were kept on catch and production inputs, along with revenue receipts, to evaluate economic efficiency of these production units.  Each family or clan organized as a unit to produce dried, jerkied, or salted fish products and allowed the use of small sail-powered fishing boats. The sail-powered fishing boats were leased to each family, with the final disposition based on the effort expended by each group.  Fishing gear and processing equipment were made available to the families through inventories established with local business interests.   Replacement costs of equipment were borne by each family unit.

The project PI traveled to Kiribati to review a similar effort and participated in a regional meeting on novel tuna products sponsored by ACIAR. In addition, the SPC provided for a fish post harvest handling specialist to assist the PI on the project, which included a site visit to the RMI and one of the outer atolls. A total of 43 fishers on three atolls (Ailinlaplap, Namdrik, and Majuro) and over 100 family members were trained in fish drying techniques. An estimated five tons of dried fish product valued at $20,000 was produced. Thirty solar dryers costing $4,200; fish processing supplies worth $1,700; fishing gear costing $3,000, and four fiberglass sail boats valued at $11,650 were distributed among 19 family groups participating in the project. The project, which ran for 24 months, was administratively rated as very successful, and all project objectives were successfully implemented.

Total project costs were $100,596, of which $7,221 were in-kind and $61,019 were direct federal costs. Project NPV is estimated at $268,335 with a B/C of 1.38.  Most of the benefits identified are attributed to labor. The industry is estimated to have 5 FTE as of 1995 and will have 65 by year the 2022.

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