Governor Ehsa and Micronesia Leaders Call for Swift Passage of National Shark Sanctuary
On October 20, 2014, Pohnpei Governor John Ehsa, Chief of Staff Falcam on behalf of FSM President Emanuel Mori, and other state leaders attended a ceremony at Pohnpei International Airport unveiling a new welcome sign which celebrates the state’s shark protections. With the passage of Chuuk’s law in May, all four states now fully protect sharks in their waters. A draft bill is currently being reviewed by the FSM National Government which would create a shark sanctuary in FSM’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
In 2011 at the Micronesia Chief Executive Summit, the Presidents and Governors of Micronesia, committed to create the Micronesia Shark Sanctuary. The administration and its NGO and private partners have been working with members of the FSM National Congress to have this draft legislation passed to fulfill its regional commitment and to secure the nations ocean resources for future generations.
“We are immensely proud of our shark protections here in Pohnpei State and this new sign will share with visitors and citizens alike that Pohnpei is committed to passing on our natural resources to our next generations,” said Governor Ehsa. “We look forward to the day when sharks are protected throughout FSM’s EEZ.”
The sign features an iconic Pohnpei image—Sokehs Rock—as well as images of sharks found in our waters. It reads, “Welcome to Pohnpei where sharks are protected.”
The unveiling comes on the heels of a recent resolution by Pohnpei’s traditional leaders who called on the Congress to pass legislation for the creation of a shark sanctuary in FSM’s national waters. More than 8,000 Micronesian students have signed a petition in support of an FSM shark sanctuary. The signers come from all four states of FSM, Palau, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Guam.
“I’m delighted to see Pohnpei taking the lead in this effort,” said Willy Kostka, Executive Director of the Micronesia Conservation Trust. “Sharks are critical to the health of our oceans, and when FSM passes our national shark sanctuary we will have joined Palau, Guam, CNMI, and Marshall Islands to create the largest shark sanctuary in the world.”
Approximately 100 million sharks are killed each year and the latest science finds that nearly 30% of known shark species fully assessed by scientists are threatened with extinction. Sharks are currently unprotected in FSM’s EEZ with the exception of oceanic whitetip sharks and silky sharks, which are protected by regional agreements under the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).