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News Release

U.S. Exports to Pitcairn Island? Really?

Angwin, Calif., USA, April 5, 2006 ------- Where in the world are the $20.3 million worth of exports the U.S Census Bureau’s Division of Foreign Trade statistics show went to remote Pitcairn Island during the past 10 years?

“They certainly haven’t come here,” said Mayor Jay Warren of the tiny South Pacific isle that is home to about 50 people, most of them descendants of the famed “Mutiny on the Bounty” sailors.

“We haven’t written checks for any such amounts for U.S. imports to the Island,” said Shirley Dillon of the Pitcairn Commissioner’s office in Auckland, New Zealand, who pays for all corporate purchases for the five square kilometer island. It is located about mid-way between Panama and New Zealand, one of the world’s most remote islands..

Being the smallest protectorate of the United Kingdom, Pitcairn buys most of its off-island needs from New Zealand, almost nothing being purchased from the U.S. Most of the islanders have their own gardens for vegetables and fruits, and catch fish to add protein to their diet, so a relatively small amount of foodstuffs are imported..

“Is this just a governmental straw man to make the U.S. export-to-import ratio somehow seem better?” asks Herbert Ford, director of the Pitcairn Islands Study Center here. He came upon the discrepancy in reading a recent news story which stated that Wisconsin had exported $47,925 worth of goods to Pitcairn in 2003.

“That just didn’t happen,” said Mayor Warren when questioned. “I wrote no check for anything like that amount to any U.S. companies,” said Ms. Dillon.

Ford said the study center will likely never learn the answer to the question if the responses thus far to his appeals for information are any indication. Telephone conversations brought no answer, and promises of information have gone unanswered.

The high-water mark of exports the statistics say went to Pitcairn in the 10-year period studied was in 2002 when $6,082,742 worth of goods were said to have been sent from various U.S. states to the island. In 1997 and 1998 the stats show no exports to Pitcairn, and by 2005 total exports were down to $456,290 from $2.3 million in 2004.

“Some of the more than 90 exports by type said by the Census Bureau to have been sent to Pitcairn are interesting,” said Ford. “‘Perfumery, Cosmetics, Etc.’ worth $89,914 are said to have been shipped to the 50 people on the island in 2005. If those shipments had arrived at Pitcairn, which they did not, it could have made for a really sweet smelling population!”

One official contacted opined that the exports may have been used on Pitcairn as raw material to manufacture its own exports to other countries and that could be the reason for “the confusion.” Pitcairn’s only “exports” are postage stamps, small shipments of dehydrated fruits and veggies, and a relatively small amount of some of the world’s purest honey.

The Census Bureau’s statistics say California, Florida, and New York were the largest exporters in terms of dollar amount to Pitcairn, but even the District of Columbia is said to have exported $37,650 in goods to the island, in 2002.

The statistics show 30 of the 50 States having exported goods to Pitcairn Island at some time during the 1996 - 2005 period.

“And the strange part is that so far as we can find out, and the Pitcairn people and its government say, it just never happened,” says Ford. “Is it all just another case of untrustworthy governmental statistics? Or might it be that the States are telling fibs to the Census Bureau statisticians about what and to where they export products? Or do the various states’ statisticians need a remedial class in world geography? As the mystery continues the questions abound.”

Then uninhabited Pitcairn Island was settled in 1790 by sailors and their Polynesian consorts. Some months earlier the sailors had mutinied aboard the British ship H.M.S. Bounty, casting their captain, William Bligh, and sailors loyal to him adrift. Bligh successfully navigated his overloaded, small boat across thousands of miles of ocean to safety at Timor in the Western Pacific. The mutineers were successful in hiding from the outside world for nearly two decades after occupying Pitcairn Island.

The famed “Mutiny on the Bounty” story has been told in hundreds of books and in five Hollywood-type motion pictures. The Pitcairn Islands Study Center provides information about the Bounty saga to scholars, authors, researchers, journalists, students and other throughout the world.


Pitcairn Islands Study Center, 1 Angwin Ave., Angwin, CA, USA. Herbert Ford, 707-965-6625, 707-965-2047, Fax: 707-965-6504, Email:, Website: