Restrictions on net fishing in the Northern Marianas are to come into effect on New Years day.
The use of monofilament gill nets, drag nets, surround nets and trap nets will be banned from that date.
The secretary of the Department of Lands and Natural Resources, Tom Pangelinan, acknowledges the ban will not be popular with local fishermen and commercial fishing companies and is proposing an amendment that would allow exceptions when special circumstances and cultural practices warrant
The Director of the Fish and Wildlife Division, Richard Seman, says gill nets are not selective, catching everything larger than the holes in the net and producing considerable by-catch which is thrown away.
He says scientific data shows that reef fish catches over the past five years have declined by over fifty per cent.
He says demand in the Northern Marianas far exceeds supply with a five hundred per cent increase in reef fish imports over the last four years.