DFW official says Smiling Cove Marina operation running smoothly

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DIVISION of Fish and Wildlife Director Manny Pangelinan said since the imposition of docking and passenger fees on commercial boat operators in October, the operation of Smiling Cove Marina has been running smoothly.

But he noted that several commercial boat operators now pick up passengers at the Garapan Fishing Base or the commercial docks under the Commonwealth Ports Authority.

“What can I do? Everybody’s trying to make a living. I just hope that everybody will eventually cooperate,” Pangelinan added.

He reiterated that the fees charged by DFW will help maintain and rehabilitate the transient dock at Smiling Cove Marina.

“And that benefits them,” he said, referring to the commercial board operators.

Pangelinan said DFW has already collected a total of $50,000 in fees paid by commercial boat operators.

“As of now, the [transient] dock is accommodating an average of 200 passengers a day. If I can get the other [commercial boat operators to also dock at Smiling Cove Marina], we can have 500 passengers per day, which means more funds to rehabilitate the transient dock,” he added.

Now that Skymark Airlines is providing a direct Narita-Saipan flight service, Pangelinan expects an increase in the number of Japanese tourists.

“When tourists arrive on our island, and then they are brought to [Garapan Fishing Base or a CPA dock], what will be the first impression about our marine sports activity? Is this the best that we can offer? Perception is very important,” he said. “We don’t want tourists to have a bad impression about our island. We have closed Outer Cove Marina for safety reasons, so I don’t think commercial boat operations should be allowed to pick their passengers at the fishing base.”

Pangelinan said because the fishing base is public land, he has asked the administration to address his concerns.

“It’s not about the money. It’s about perception and it is also about safety,” he added.

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