The Federal States of Micronesia Marine Protected Area
Micronesia Challenge press release (May 2017)
The Federated States of Micronesia’s President Peter Christian on April 18th 2017 signed into law Congressional Act #19-176 which amends Title 24 of the FSM Code by inserting a new section that declares the 12-mile area seaward of the territorial sea as a closed area to commercial fishing and exploitation of natural resources. The newly demarcated area shall not extend beyond 24-miles from the baseline from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured. This new zoning of the FSM’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) sets aside approximately 10% of its 200-mile EEZ under conservation measures. The FSM’s EEZ covers a sea area of more than 1.3 million square miles.
Announced at Our Ocean 2016 Conference (15 Sept 2016)
The Federated States of Micronesia announced its commitment to expand out to 24 nautical miles around each island its marine protected area that prohibits commercial fishing, therein protecting an additional 184,948 square kilometers of its ocean waters.
There is a very large difference in fishery management arrangements at the national level (outside 12 nautical miles) and the state level (inside 12 nautical miles). There are also great differences between the states:
At the national level the National Oceanic Resources Management Authority (NORMA) has the authority under the fisheries law to adopt regulations for the management, development and sustainable use of fisheries resources in the exclusive economic zone. Regulations adopted by the Authority have the full force and effect of law, and are considered an integral part of the fisheries law. Management measures have historically revolved around strict vessel licensing requirements and effective enforcement to achieve the objective of obtaining national revenue from foreign fishing access agreements. In recent years the objective of ensuring resource sustainability has received considerable attention, with restriction of purse seine effort being the main supporting measure.
At the state level the most common type of fishery management measure used are various types of bans (e.g. destructive fishing techniques) and closed seasons. Example of common ban is the prohibition of fishing for trochus except during short open seasons. The use of marine protected areas is increasing.
At the state level the fisheries management conditions and arrangements are14:
Although Chuuk State has by far the largest state fishery agency in FSM, it is also the state with the most serious fishery management problems. High and rapidly growing population is creating greater pressure on fishery resources. There are large numbers of boats in the lagoon (reportedly over 2 000). Although many of these are used primarily for transport, many are also used for fishing, at least occasionally. Good air connections exist to Guam, which provides a market for a component of the catch. Dynamite fishing is prevalent, and dredging and sand-mining for building materials are largely uncontrolled. The State’s numerous municipalities nominally have some authority to control access to their fishing areas but these seem to be upheld only in the outer islands and more remote parts of Chuuk proper, and are largely ignored close to the population centres.
Kosrae State is the state with the least complex fishery management environment. A single small island with a small population (who are historically not such ardent fishermen as those of other FSM states), limited resources, and far from most commercial marketing opportunities, Kosrae’s fishery management problems are mainly related to the smallness of the resource. Harvests of certain key species such as trochus and crabs are or need to be controlled, but most threats to coastal resources come from land-based developments, which cause increased runoff, pollution or sedimentation. However Kosrae probably has the best-developed coastal management system of any state, with environmental review procedures being progressively implemented for all coastal development projects.
Pohnpei State is something of an intermediate case in terms of resources, degree of exploitation, and the extent of fishery management problems. The general perception in Pohnpei seems to be that resources are not yet in crisis but that the time is quickly approaching when management action will be needed, at least on Pohnpei proper. Unfortunately there is also something of a fatalistic view that management will not be possible until a crisis situation develops. As in other states, enforcement of State fishery laws by State police or conservation officers is largely ineffective, while the absence of traditional tenure systems on Pohnpei proper may impede the development of community-based management arrangements.
Yap State is unique in the degree to which traditional marine tenure arrangement have been preserved, both in Yap proper and in the outer islands. Inshore fishery management in the state essentially needs to be community-based because the state constitution and laws recognize that communities and their leaders have absolute authority over access to and use of coastal areas. Relative to other states, Yap has a large resource base and small population, and in this sense management issues related to over-exploitation are not pronounced. Nevertheless, some resources, especially of sessile types such as clams and beche-de-mer, have been seriously over-exploited in the past, demonstrating that the traditional system of tenure does not guarantee responsible stewardship. (14) Source: GPA (2001). National-Level Arrangements for Coastal Fisheries Management in FSM. Gillett Preston and Associates, Fisheries Management and Development Project TA No. 2832-FSM, Asian Development Bank, Manila.