10 Jun 2008

Northern Marianas' marine monument would bring in millions - study

3:15 pm on 10 June 2008

An analysis of the Pew Charitable Trust's proposal to establish a marine monument in the CNMI's northern islands says the plan will boost the Commonwealth's economy by millions each year and draw thousands of new tourists to the region.

The monument plan has proven controversial among some local government officials and lawmakers who say it will lead to restrictions on fishing and other activities in the area, yet proponents of the idea say the new analysis should ease their fears.

The study, by University of Guam economist Dr. Thomas Iverson, says the proposal will bring approximately 8,000 new tourists to the Commonwealth each year and create 400 new jobs.

Moreover, it estimates the plan will result in $333 million in economic benefits to region over the next several years.

The benefits of the monument, which would effectively be a huge marine reserve, would include an annual federal contribution to the site, added media attention for the area, increases in tourism, visits by research scientists, and an influx of funding from other federal government programs and non-profit groups.