Friday, February 27, 2015


February 4th, 2015, marked the passing of CB18-134 by the National Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), otherwise known as the “Shark Bill”. This bill was the result of collaborative efforts between key National Government departments, led by FSM President Manny Mori, and key committee members, leadership, and staff of the FSM National Congress.  Significant contributors to the bill’s successful passage include the Micronesian Conservation Trust, numerous other conservation and grass roots advocates, and proponents from FSM State and Municipal Governments.

President Mori signed the landmark legislation into Law on February 26, 2015.

The provisions in the new law are similar to those in the European Union and United States legal frameworks, and prohibit the practice of “shark finning” of all species of sharks on board fishing vessels.

During the early stages of this effort, President Mori was actively involved in ensuring that the Shark Bill not only achieved the conservation and protection of the species, but also allowed otherwise wasted shark by-catch to be utilized by local farmers as livestock feed. Therefore, unlike other bills, the Shark Bill was tailored to provide that if a shark is caught, vessels must either release the live shark back into the ocean, or retain and land the dead shark at an FSM port, fins attached.

Importantly, the new law also allows all types of by-catch, in addition to sharks, to be utilized in the future. This provision alone has the potential to help boost the economy, while at the same time create a new industry for the local production of livestock feed, which should cut down on the import of livestock feed and create job opportunities.

In order to facilitate the introduction of the obligation to retain and land dead sharks, the law provides a six-month exemption for fishing vessels, valid from the date the bill became a law, after which the obligation is mandatory. 

The new law is the result of a tailored approach to shark conservation and species management in the FSM, designed to provide protection of shark species, while simultaneously utilizing wasted resources to help the local communities.

Micronesia Conservation Trust Commends Federated States of Micronesia Action to Protect Sharks

Vast swath of western Pacific closed to commercial shark fishing

WASHINGTON—The Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) passed legislation Feb. 4 to create a shark sanctuary in the country’s full exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which covers nearly 3 million square kilometers (1.1 million square miles) in the western Pacific Ocean.  President Manny Mori transmitted and assigned the legislation as Public Law No. 18-108 today.

The Pew Charitable Trusts, which has worked the past four years with the Micronesia Conservation Trust to advocate for protection of sharks throughout Micronesia, welcomed the legislation.  The measure prohibits the commercial fishing and trade of sharks and rays and their parts.

“Our commitment to the Micronesia Challenge includes the protection of the top predators in our ocean,” President Mori said. The Micronesia Challenge is a regional declaration of conservation goals to which the nation agreed in 2006. “Our traditional stories say that sharks protect the people. Now the people will protect the sharks.”

On a broader scale, passage of the legislation marks the completion of the Micronesia Regional Shark Sanctuary, which already includes the waters of Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the U.S. territories of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. In total, the area of protected shark habitat across the contiguous area is larger than the size of the European Union.

Creation of the FSM sanctuary follows a grassroots effort spearheaded by the Micronesia Conservation Trust, based in Pohnpei. Led by executive director Willy Kostka, the organization built a coalition of conservationists, traditional leaders, and students to advocate for protection of sharks throughout Micronesia. This was a collaborative effort between national and state governments and various stakeholders, including the Office of the President, Senator Singkoro Harper and the FSM National Congress, FSM Department of Justice, FSM R&D, NORMA, National Fisheries Corporation, Caroline Fisheries Corporation, Luen Thai, Pohnpei Office of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and local conservation organizations and partners.

“More than 8,000 students from across the region signed petitions to support these protections,” Kostka said. “This is something the people wanted.”

Passage of the FSM’s law creates the 10th shark sanctuary in the world and cements the country as a global leader in shark conservation. The sanctuary will protect iconic species such as silky and thresher sharks, which are considered near threatened and threatened, respectively, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Worldwide, an estimated 100 million sharks are killed each year in commercial fisheries. Nearly 30 percent of all known shark species assessed by scientists are threatened with extinction.

"The completion of the Micronesia Regional Shark Sanctuary is truly a landmark action because it joins together a massive swath of the western Pacific as a trans-boundary sanctuary for all the sharks that migrate across this huge ocean region," said Angelo Villagomez, a shark expert with Pew. “We look forward to working with our partners in the FSM to make certain that the implementing regulations ensure strong protections for sharks."

Sharks play an important role in maintaining the health of the entire ocean. As top predators, they regulate the variety and abundance of other species in the food web, including commercially important fish. Sharks help maintain healthy marine habitats, such as coral reefs.

They also are among the foremost species that scuba divers want to see, and their presence helps attracts tourists to these islands. By establishing a shark sanctuary, the FSM is acting to strengthen the marine ecosystem, including coral reefs, and helping to secure industries, such as tourism, that depend on a healthy ocean.

MCT and Pew wish to thank the following people, organizations, and government agencies, for whom this sanctuary could not have been completed without:

Mwoalen Wahu Ileile en wein Pohnpei (Traditional Leadership Council of Pohnpei State)
Micronesia Traditional Leaders Council
H.E. President Emmanuel "Manny" Mori
Micronesia Chief Executives
Association of Pacific Island Legislatures and Members
FSM Congress and staff attorney, Alik Jackson
FSM R&D Secretary Marion Henry and Assistant Secretary Alissa Takesy
FSM Department of Justice
FSM Postal Services, Mrs. Ginger Porter-Mida
Chuuk State Governor, Honorable Mr. Johnson Elimo
Chuuk State Government
Chuuk State Fisheries, Resources, and Marine Conservation Agencies
Kosrae State Governor, Honorable Mr. Lyndon Jackson
Kosrae State Government
Kosrae State Fisheries, Resources, and Marine Conservation Agencies
Pohnpei State Governor, Honorable Mr. John Ehsa
Pohnpei State Government
Pohnpei State Fisheries, Resources, and Marine Conservation Agencies
Yap State Governor, Honorable Mr. Sebastian Anefal
Yap State Government
Yap State Fisheries, Resources, and Marine Conservation Agencies
National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA)
National Fisheries Corporation (NFC)
Caroline Fisheries Corporation (CFC)
Luen Thai
The Nature Conservancy
Chuuk Conservation Society
Conservation Society of Pohnpei
Kosrae Conservation & Safety Organization
Yap Community Action Program
Pohnpei Youth Environment Ambassadors
Kembo Mida, Jr., Ramp and Mida
Emi Musrasrik
Island Girl Power
Marshall Islands Conservation Society (MICS)
Micronesia Shark Foundation
Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance (MINA)


The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Learn more at

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Infection Control and Prevention for Ebola Virus Disease held in Pohnpei

(FSM Department of Health & Social Affairs) - Teams of health care workers recently gathered in Pohnpei for a workshop on Infection Control and Prevention for Ebola Virus Disease.

The workshop was run by the World Health Organization’s Dr Angela Merinos a Public Health Clinician from WHO’s Suva Office, and Nurse Danielle Ballantyne, who had been a Head Nurse at Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) Ebola treatment Centre in Liberia.

The training covered a number of topics. Ebola virus disease is a severe often fatal illness. On average, in West Africa, about half the people with this disease die. The initial symptoms can include sudden illness, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat. Similar symptoms occur in a number of other diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever, shigellosis, cholera, leptospirosis and hepatitis.

Ebola is highly infectious. The virus is spread by direct contact with blood or bodily fluids of infected persons. The incubation period: the time from when a patient has been exposed to the virus until the time symptoms and disease appears ranges from 2-21 days. Patients however, only become infectious when they are sick.

The risk of Ebola reaching the FSM is very low. There are very few travellers from Ebola affected areas of West Africa to the FSM. People who have been in contact with patients with Ebola virus disease are restricted from travel until 21 days after their last contact. Any person entering the FSM must first travel through Guam or Honolulu, and may have gone through several customs and immigration screenings, where it is hoped that any potential cases may have already been picked up.

The training ended with a functional exercise.  Staff exercised accepting a patient, placing him into the isolation ward and drawing a blood specimen for Ebola Virus confirmatory testing.

The exercise highlighted the importance of following strict protocols for donning and removing the safety suits and decontaminating between each step with dilute bleach, which fortunately kills the virus. Any breach in protocol increased the risk of spread of the virus.

Teams of isolation room staff were required to design how the isolation rooms in their state hospital could be divided into green, yellow and red zones to minimize the spread of the virus. Fortunately most hospital isolation rooms could be modified without too much expense. 

The training did not focus on treatment for Ebola patients. What was stressed however was that any treatment or procedure must be carefully assessed to determine if it could be safely carried without undue risk of spread of the virus to health care workers or the community. 

Some time was devoted to the safe handling of human remains. This has been a big concern in Africa, and would probably be very upsetting for Micronesians as well. It was recommended that human remains must be removed by rapid response teams and placed in heavy duty leak-proof body bags. The outside of the bag must be decontaminated before placing inside a coffin. To prevent the spread of infection a strict rule of no handling of or washing the body must be enforced.

What about those people suspected of having Ebola but who don’t actually have it? Patients must have two separate blood specimens confirmed negative for Ebola before they can leave isolation. The infrequent and long flights to Atlanta, where the Ebola reference laboratory is located, means the patient may have to be in isolation for a week or two. FSM cannot perform this testing as the FSM laboratories do not comply with the mandated biosafety level for performing such testing.

FSM has a small stock of containment suits, a core team of trained isolation unit staff and there are isolation units in each FSM hospital.



On January 27, 2015, President Mori issued an Executive Order that organized and established an FSM Task Force on National Unity whose purpose is to assist and educate Chuukese voters on the question of whether Chuuk State should or should not secede from the Federation.  The question was to be placed on the ballot during the National Election on March 3, 2015.

On February 23, 2015, Governor of the State of Chuuk, The Honorable Johnson Elimo issued an Executive Order severing the Chuuk State Political Status Plebiscite from the National Election effort scheduled to be held on March 3, citing shortcomings by the Chuuk State Election Commission on their ability to conduct the plebiscite as scheduled.

In light of the above Executive Order by the Governor of Chuuk, President Mori has temporarily suspended further efforts and activities of the FSM Task Force on National Unity as authorized by the Presidential Executive Order dated January 27, 2015.

President Mori further stated: “I will be proposing, and calling for a leadership meeting between Chuuk State Government, FSM National Government and representatives from the United States Government to address the underlying issues raised by Chuuk State during the initiated movement to secede.

In the meantime, I congratulate and applaud the Governor of Chuuk State and the entire leadership of Chuuk State Government for postponing this plebiscite.  I also wish to thank the Task Force and everyone in Chuuk and abroad, for their diligent and tireless efforts to assist in our educational campaign on National Unity.”