Pacific leaders look
to grow economies

A meeting held here
includes discussions on
aquaculture expansion

Legislators from island nations scattered over thousands of miles in the Pacific Ocean gathered in Hawaii this week to discuss solutions to shared problems and learn more about the aquaculture industry.

Though there are many political lines that separate the nations participating in the 24th General Assembly of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures, there are many issues that unite them, said Joanne Brown, president of the association.

Among those issues is the need for economic development.

Holding the association's meeting in Hawaii this year enabled representatives to take a closer look at aquaculture as a way to bolster the islands' economies, Brown said.

The lawmakers spent part of yesterday at Oahu's Oceanic Institute, a marine research center that specializes in aquaculture research.

Many of the residents of Pohnpei -- home to Palikir, the capital of the Federated States of Micronesia about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to Indonesia -- are either fishermen or farmers.

The fishermen like to farm and the farmers like to fish, said Sen. Fernando Scaliem of Pohnpei.

"By becoming aquaculturalists we can become farmers and fisherman at the same exact time," he said.

Lolo Moliga, the Senate president in American Samoa, said he has other interests in meeting with fellow association members -- learning more about how the United States deals with other islands in the region.

After ruling the U.S. territory for more than 100 years, the superpower has yet to live up to its promises to the island nation of improving education, health services and the local economy, Moliga said.

American Samoa plans to hold a constitutional convention soon during which it will review its relationship with the federal government, he said.

"They'll have to live up to their commitment after all these years," he said.

Association of Pacific Island Legislatures:

CIA Factbook, American Samoa:

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