Monday, October 27, 2014

Record 12 fishing vessels under investigation as FFA’s Operation Kurukuru ends

 Friday 24th October, FFA-RSFC, HoniaraThe region’s annual large-scale maritime surveillance sweep of Pacific fishing waters has netted a record 12 vessels in potential breach of their fishing licenses. The vessels, nabbed by Fisheries Maritime Police from FSM (6), PNG (5) and Palau (one) are flagged to Thailand, the Philippines and FSM. They were amongst 114 boardings of fishing vessels and 1011 sightings of vessels across the EEZs of 14 Pacific nations involved in the Operation Kurukuru maritime surveillance exercise. The regional sweep, launched on Wednesday 15th October, ended its tenth and final day today.
“Further details on the alleged infringements are an operational matter and will be dealt with at the national level but I think the findings demonstrate the level of standards and effectiveness which our national partners are applying to themselves in the area of maritime surveillance,” says FFA Director General James Movick. “The fact that the FSM patrol boat boarded, inspected and took action on one of its own fishing vessels as part of the Operation is significant.  While the infraction was relatively minor, this is a clear demonstration that FSM's application of the rules for fishing activity is no less stringent on vessels under its flag, than any other national flag, and this is exactly as it should be.”
He noted that the spread of boardings - with 44 of the 114 vessels being boarded in ports – one of them leading to an ongoing investigation -- shows that nations are continuing vigilance not just at sea, but within their own ports.
“Through operations such as Kurukuru, Pacific nations as custodians of their oceanic resources are capably sending the message to anyone fishing without, or in breach of, their licenses that we are watching, your activity is being recorded, and you will be caught,” Movick says.
The Patrol Boats RKS TEANOAI (Kiribati), with 19, and PSS PRESIDENT H.I. REMELIIK (Palau), with 14, conducted half of the total at-sea boardings during Kurukuru, providing a “consistent excellence in their annual efforts and national prioritising for the resources needed to maintain this surveillance standard,” he added. 15 vessels spent a combined total of 106 days at sea, linking where possible with seven patrol aircraft crews whose shifts totalled 181 flight hours documenting and ‘sensing’ fishing activity in Pacific waters.

The FFA Director General also commended the “outstanding” activity of Papua New Guinea’s patrol boat the HMPNGS SEEADLER, another success story of Kurukuru 2014. Five of its six boardings resulted in discovery of potential infringements. The active participation of PNG is a major outcome for the current operation, linked to an earlier one-month attachment to FFA’s Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre by PNG Leading Seaman Riwas Israel Pala of the 
National Surveillance Coordination Centre based in Port Moresby.

“Thanks to his attachment with the FFA RFSC and his leadership in applying that learning back in his home HQ, PNG was online, active and fully engaged for the entire operation, a fantastic result for one of the busiest fishing nations in the Pacific,” says Movick.
He welcomed the introduction in Kurukuru 2014 of a new ‘Chief of Staff’ position to help keep communications and updates flowing. Cook Islands Operations Officer and 2nd-in-command of the Cook Islands Maritime Division, Tuariki ‘Stu’ Henry was the inaugural Chief of Staff, taking up an intensive month-long attachment to the FFA-RFSC as part of this role. 
“As a major surveillance operation for the Pacific, it’s pleasing to see Kurukuru continue to deliver innovation and results on an annual basis and I thank Australia for its funding support for these new updates to the annual program,” says Movick.
Kurukuru 2014 covered an area of approximately 30 million square kilometres - including the EEZs of Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Fisheries surveillance and enforcement staff from all of these countries worked together with their Quadrilateral Defence Cooperation counterparts from Australia, New Zealand, France and the United States over the two weeks of round the clock surveillance, data analysis, reporting & information sharing and, ultimately, enforcement operations . Australia’s Fisheries Management Authority, the Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources, and NZ’s National Maritime Coordination Centre provided analysts to aid the operation in the Surveillance centre while Vanuatu ship-riders worked with patrol boats in Palau.
The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) strengthens national capacity and regional solidarity so its 17 members can manage, control and develop their tuna fisheries now and in the future. Based in Honiara, Solomon Islands, FFA's 17 Pacific Island members are Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.  Since 1979, FFA has facilitated regional cooperation so that all Pacific countries benefit from the sustainable use of tuna – a multi-billion dollar resource important for many people’s livelihoods in the Pacific.

CONTACT Lisa Williams-Lahari, FFA Media Officer II Email: II  Tel:  +677 7574230 (Mob.)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Officials Attend Airport Ceremony Unveiling new welcome sign which Celebrates State Shark Protection

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).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

President Mori accepts Letter of Credence for Ambassador of the Russian Federation

In an official ceremony held on Monday October 20, 2014, President Emanuel Mori received and accepted the Letter of Credence for His Excellency Nikolay R. Kudashev, accrediting him as the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Federated States of Micronesia, with residence in Manila, Philippines. Following the presentation, the Ambassador paid a courtesy call on President Mori and discussions and exchanges of views were held centering on issues of importance and of common interests to both countries.

Acknowledging a previous meeting in Palau during the margins of the 2014 Forum Leaders meeting, President Mori welcomed the Ambassador to the FSM and thanked him for taking the time to visit to present his credential. The President affirmed to the Ambassador that his accreditation represents an opportunity for both countries to strengthen relations that was formalized in 1999. As a member of the United Nations, the President highlighted the FSM’s long-standing position to accord sentiments of mutual friendship to all members of global community. As inscribed in the Preamble of the FSM Constitution, the President reiterated that the FSM “extend to all nations what we seek from each: peace, friendship, cooperation, and love in our common humanity”. Russia’s permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) was mentioned for which the President indicated the important role that Russia continues to plays towards the stability, peace and prosperity of the international community. Towards this end, the President expressed his commendation to the Ambassador for Russia’s responsible decision to join the US-led fights against terrorist group ISIS. The President acknowledged the rapid growth of Russia’s economy, and submits possible sector areas of cooperation in the field of energy (i.e. liquefied natural gas), health and education, culture and tourism development.  As a top priority for the FSM, the importance of climate change was affirmed by the President for which he requested Russia’s support of FSM’s proposed amendments for the Montreal Protocol. Other issues that were discussed by the President and the Ambassador were education and training opportunities, to which the Ambassador offered a fellowship program aimed to sponsor a small delegation to visit Russia for a 2-3 weeks familiarization tour. The Ambassador also submitted for consultation, a proposition for the establishment of a Russian honorary consul of representation in the FSM, which President Mori recognized as critical to the new effort to enhance the relations between the two countries, and proposed a need to also explore the establishment of an FSM honorary consul in the Russia Federation.

Present in the ceremony and courtesy call were Secretary Lorin S. Robert of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Secretary April dawn Skilling of the Department of Justice, President’s Chief of Staff Leo A Falcam Jr., and staffs. The Ambassador was accompanied by his spouse. 

FSM and US Holds 2014 Joints Committee Meeting (JCM)

On October 7, 2014, delegates from the Federated States of Micronesia and the United States of America congregated in Honolulu, Hawaii on the occasion of the 2014 Annual Joint Committee Meeting, hosted by the US and held at the Center for Excellence on Ford Island, Pearl Harbor.

As with previous such engagement, the meeting served as a platform for the two countries to continue joint discussions of issues of importance and of common interest to both countries, specifically as it relates to security and defense matters as described in Title III of the Compact of Free Association Treaty. Issues on maritime security, enlistment of FSM citizens into the US Armed Forces, current works of the FSM Transnational Crime Unit (TCU), implementation of projects under the HA-FSM and the Civic Construction Action Detail (CCAD) programs were highlighted in the meeting. Ongoing efforts to enhance the military presence in Guam were also reported.

Heading the FSM Delegation to the JCM meeting was the Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs Samson E. Pretrick. Secretary Francis Itimai of the Department of Transportation, Communications and Infrastructure, Secretary April Dawn Skilling of the Department of Justice, FSM Ambassador to Washington D.C. Asterio Takesy, Chief of Staff Leo A. Falcam, Jr., and Consul General Robert Ruecho were in attendance, along with supporting delegates.

The US Delegation was headed by Her Excellency Ambassador Doria Rosen accompanied by Rear Admiral Better Bolivar, Commander of the Joint Region Marianas, and supporting delegates. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ambassador of Turkey Presents Letter of Credence to President Mori

(L-R: Foreign Affairs Deputy Security Samson Pretrick, Foreign Affairs Secretary Lorin S. Robert, President Manny Mori, Ambassador Ahmet Bulent Meric, Third Secretary of the Embassy of Turkey Erkan Yilmaz and Secretary Francis Itimai of the Department of Transportation, Communications and Infrastructure)

In the morning of October 16, 2014, His Excellency Ambassador Ahmet Bulent Meric of Turkey presented his Letter of Credence to President Emanuel Mori officially accrediting him as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Turkey to the Federated States of Microesia, with residence in Tokyo, Japan.

At the outset, the President welcomed the Ambassador to the FSM and congratulated him for his successful accreditation as the Ambassador of Turkey to the FSM.  Acknowledging Turkey as a major player, not only in the Middle East, but internationally as well, the President affirmed his desire for the strengthening of relations between the two countries.  He also acknowledged Turkey’s continuing effort to enhance engagement with the Pacific Islands Forum countries, through such mechanism as the Turkey-PIFS Forum Ministerial Meeting, the recent of which was held in Turkey in June of this year.  Sentiments of appreciation for assistance provided by Turkey were conveyed as well.  

At the global level, the President took the opportunity to highlight and emphasize to the Ambassador, climate change as an issue of continuing importance to the FSM.  In connection, the President requested Turkey’s support to the FSM’s proposed amendments to the Montreal Protocol, cementing this matter as a top priority for the FSM.  Note Turkey’s bid for a non-permanent seat of the United Nations Security Council, President Mori offered his sentiments of support.

As it is the usual practice for such an occasion, the official ceremony of the presentation was held at the Cabinet Room of the Office of the President.  Secretary Lorin S. Robert of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Secretary Francis Itimai of the Department of Transportation, Communications and Infrastructure, Foreign Affairs Deputy Secretary Samson Pretrick, President’s Chief of Staff Leo A. Falcam Jr., and staffs were in attendance.