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Pohnpei-wide Mangrove Vulnerability Assessment completed

Micronesia Conservation Trust


Untitled 1Pohnpei—Mangroves are vital to the communities of Micronesia, and especially Pohnpei. They filter water from sediment and unnecessary nutrients, host nursery habitat for fish, crabs and other marine life, provide livelihoods and protect coastal communities from storms and storms surges. Mangrove ecosystems are vital to the survival of Pohnpeian communities by keeping them resilient and protecting them from the impacts of climate change and global warming such as more frequent droughts, flooding and saltwater inundation into farmlands. However, today, our mangroves are being threatened not just by climate change, but also human impacts such as dredging and landfills.

On February 25th, 2021, the Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT), its local partners including the FSM National Department of R&D, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Micronesia Program, the Conservation Society of Pohnpei (CSP) and Pohnpei State Department of R&D, held a webinar with the United States Forest Service (USFS), the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the University of Tasmania (UTAS) to discuss the findings and recommendations from this 5 year long vulnerability assessment that covered almost all the mangrove areas in Pohnpei. Specifically, during the meeting, the US federal agencies and the UTAS shared the outcomes of the data they had gathered and analyzed on the status of Pohnpei’s mangroves over the past 5 years. The outcomes of the project include an island wide Mangroves Vulnerability Assessment, and climate change prediction analysis for the island of Pohnpei (called a WARMER Mode). Additionally, the report included a Forest Inventory & Analysis (FIA) and the ongoing Surface Elevation Table (rSET) for the Pohnpei State. Emphasis was on presenting the methodologies, results and management recommendations that could be used to continue to protect the ecosystem services provided by Pohnpei's vast mangrove system. A key finding of both reports concluded that while climate change and sea-level rise are going to be the long-term threats to the health and viability of Pohnpei’s mangroves, human impacts such as dredging, pollution, and coastal development are currently the major threats to Pohnpei’s mangroves.

To continue the discussions locally, the Conservation Society of Pohnpei and its partners are preparing for the 2nd Mangrove Conference on March 17th -18th, 2021. This conference is meant to provide the outcomes of the ongoing initiative including recommendations to the Pohnpei State Government, resource managers, local governments, traditional leaders and communities to encourage dialogue that will help identify the most effective and appropriate mangrove management strategies for Pohnpei. 

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May 13th planned for repatriation of stranded citizens

Declaration of public health emergency extended to May 31st, 2021

FSM Information Services


April 4, 2021

PALIKIR, Pohnpei— Per Congressional Resolution (C.R.) 21-252, the Declaration of Public Health Emergency originally implemented by His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), on January 31st, 2020, has been extended to May 31st, 2021. Citizens interested in reading C.R. 21-252 may find it here:


For the great bulk of citizens, residents, and stakeholders, including those residing in the FSM and those stranded abroad, C.R. 21-252 offers no change from the status quo of the past several months and is thematically similar to the previously enacted C.R. 21-245, C.R. 21-228, C.R. 21-185, and C.R. 21-175. Economic provisions, such as cargo shipping and at-sea transshipment of fish, remain in place and unaltered. Travel into the FSM remains restricted, with limited exceptions; outbound travel from the FSM remains open, though such activity is discouraged unless it is medically necessary.

While it remains the intent of the FSM National Government to achieve a minimum 70% vaccination rate amongst its eligible population (i.e. adults aged 18 years and up) prior to the renewal of most repatriation activities from COVID-19 affected jurisdictions, there has been recent but significant movement in the planning for repatriation efforts from the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the stranded medical patients in the U.S. Territory of Guam.

Per C.R. 21-252, stranded medical patients are given the first priority for return into the Nation from COVID-19 affected jurisdictions.

On March 30th, 2021, the FSM National Government sent a diplomatic note to the Government of the United States of America requesting a humanitarian assistance flight from Guam to the FSM. Since the

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Some depositors allege wrong doing by Bank of Guam handling of “stimulus checks”

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


March 29, 2021

Pohnpei—Seven plaintiffs, some US citizens and some FSM citizens, have filed a complaint (CA 2021-008) for damages against the Bank of Guam for the bank’s handling of deposits of United States Department of Treasury funds, so called “stimulus checks”. 

The plaintiffs say that when the Bank of Guam either failed to honor US Treasury checks or in some cases, “returned” money to the Internal Revenue service that plaintiffs had deposited into their accounts, Bank of Guam violated their contractual obligation to their customers amounting to fraud and theft.

They allege that in some instances, the Bank of Guam established itself as the entity that would determine whether a depositor was eligible to receive a stimulus payment from the United States Treasury by requesting that the depositor present a United States passport, a United States tax return, or W-2 form issued by an employer in the United States. 

They further allege that the Bank of Guam also contacted local businesses including the Bank of the FSM telling the local businesses that they were prohibited by law from cashing or otherwise negotiating US Treasury checks.  They claim that action was in an effort to keep its customers and other people from being able to negotiate US Treasury checks in the FSM.

The civil action claims that the “Bank of Guam has refused and continues to refuse to communicate with the Plaintiffs about the status of their deposits, other than to advise the Plaintiffs that they need to contact the United Stated Internal Revenue Service.”

Plaintiffs argue that “there is no provision of United States law or FSM law that authorizes the Bank of Guam to intercept and hold deposits issued by the United States Treasury like that at issue here, including serving as an agent for the United States Internal Revenue Service.”  It also says that there is no provision of US or FSM law that requires the Bank of Guam to scrutinize or investigate the deposits made with it. 

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Motions and counter motions continue in question of COVID-19 border closure constitutionality

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


April 8, 2021

Palikir, Pohnpei, FSM—Motions in Civil Action 2021-007, the complaint for declaratory relief in the matter of the Constitutionality of FSM President David Panuelo’s emergency declaration that closed the borders are continuing. On February 26, 2021, 13 plaintiffs who are FSM citizens, each affected by the border closure and representing each of the four FSM States, filed the suit for declaratory judgment.  As covered in The Kaselehlie Press, on March 15, the government defendants filed a motion to dismiss, alleging failure to name the FSM States as indispensable parties and a non-justiciable political question.

On March 26, the plaintiffs filed an opposition to the defendants’ motion to dismiss.  The Court has not ruled on either motion and on April 5, Associate Justice Larry Wentworth set the hearing time for Wednesday April 21 at 10:30 a.m.  Today, the defendants filed a motion in opposition to the plaintiffs’ motion in opposition of the motion to dismiss.  Usually a motion of that type would be called a reply in support of motion to dismiss.

In their opposition to the motion to dismiss the civil action, defendants argued that since the power to regulate immigration is expressly delegated to the national government, it is a national power and not a State power.  “In other words, the FSM States did not close down the national borders because the FSM States are without any proper constitutional authority to do so,” the defendants argued.

Government defendants countered plaintiffs’ argument.  “It is…necessary to note boldly the responsibilities extended to the FSM States by the resolutions of the FSM Congress. The resolution provides the direction for a creation of an FSM COVID-19 Taskforce, which entails the combination of essential offices from both the National and State Government. The task to try and tackle COVID-19 is a complicated issue as it does not affect any one state within the FSM but the Nation as a whole. No one state can claim sovereignty and jurisdiction over their handling of the COVID-19 Pandemic as possible conflicts can result

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Japan government provides $3.7 million for FSM Fisheries and Maritime Institute

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


April 8, 2021

Palikir, Pohnpei—This afternoon, Ambassador of Japan to the FSM Sobashima Hidenobu met with FSM Secretary for Foreign Affairs Kandhi Elieisar to officially sign paperwork to turn over a $3.7 million grant to be used for capacity building at the FSM Fisheries and Maritime Institute.

IMG 0616The FSM Fisheries and Maritime Institute (FMI) is located in Yap and operated by the College of Micronesia FSM.  It offers majors in Navigation, Marine Engineering, and Fishing Technology.

Ambassador Sobashima said that FMI has been hampered in its ability to conduct field training due to lack of necessary equipment. He said that the grant would be used for construction of additional classrooms and dormitory rooms, and also rigid-hull inflatable boats and a training ship.

“After the construction of the facilities and the provision of the equipment are completed, the number of the students of the Institute is expected to increase by 30 to 90, and the Institute will be able to conduce field training using the provided training ship and boats, which will pave the way for strengthening the FSM’s maritime transportation and security capabilities, deterring illegal fishing and human trafficking, among other possible problems,” Ambassador Hidenobu said. “Thus it will develop the FSM’s foundations for resilient and sustainable development, contributing to the promotion of the Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”

“Fisheries and Maritime Institute is the only institution for the education of maritime matters in the FSM, with its reputation and expectation widely felt not only throughout the FSM, but also in Palau, and the Marshall Islands, in the Micronesian region,” he said.

Secretary Elieisar thanked the Japanese government through its Ambassador for providing the essential grant.  He also commended College of Micronesia FSM Interim President, Karen Simion, who was present at the ceremony, with the support of the FSM Department of Education for their foresight in applying for and securing the grant.

“FMI has potential to grow into an important learning institution of varied specialized disciplines,” Secretary Elieisar said, “churning out citizens with expertise in modern navigation techniques including celestial navigation, in engineering, and so forth that could help ensure the vast maritime domain that we have in apprehending IUUs (Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated fishing vessels), and other violations of our waters.”

“Who knows,” he said, “maybe one of FMI’s students will develop robots that swim in the ocean gathering data, or an algorithm that detects IUUs.”

“Indeed, FMI is the only maritime institution, one of its kind in vocational learning in our country…and I cannot overemphasize the importance of FSM in the development and security of the maritime domain of the FSM, and in affording invaluable technical skills and knowledge to our citizens for employment opportunities, particularly in our fisheries sector, which is the number one priority sector of our country,” Secretary Elieisar said.

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Using implementation and climate science to diminish Dengue in the FSM and RMI

Pacific Islands Health Officers Association


(Hagåtña, Guam) – Many US-Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPIs) are disproportionately affected by climate change. Low elevation islands, particularly those in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI), have already experienced rising sea levels and persistent drought affecting access to drinking water, decreased living space, and climate-sensitive diseases like dengue. 

The FSM and RMI health leadership and PIHOA have teamed up with the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) U.S. Department of State to building predictive models. Using climate and dengue data, the team will develop and implement early warning systems against dengue for the FSM and RMI. This lead time would allow FSM and RMI to train vector staff, reduce mosquito sources, test insecticide resistance, and perform outbreak-ready maintenance or procurement of vector control equipment and materials.

"The project's outcome aims to give these Pacific Island nations lead time – of weeks or even months – using predictive models, to prepare a public health response to reduce the impact and severity of dengue," said Dr. Limb Hapairai, PIHOA Regional Medical Entomologist at the 2021 Virtual Consortium of Universities for Global Health's (CUGH) Annual Conference.

Dr. Hapairai and other Implementation Scientists dedicated to climate adaptation recently convened to share information and resources to close the gap between knowledge and practice. Meeting participants were engaged in a series of presentations, case studies, and discussions to find practical ways to optimize evidence-based interventions for complex public health challenges. One of the CUGH meeting objectives was to bring experts together to find solutions to challenges faced by climate-change programs using implementation science.

"One of the challenges that we face in the region is staff availability and high-turnover, especially trained ones. Due to financial and HR constraints, Environmental Health Departments do not have dedicated mosquito control programs with full-time staffing. Staff is frequently assigned to activities that are considered higher priority which may limit the development and maintenance of an early warning system." said Dr. Hapairai.

Though the early warning systems for FSM and RMI are in the initial phases, the information and resources gained from the CUGH meeting will be critical for the success of the project. These experiences and projects afford a valuable opportunity to take stock of implementation challenges and design research and analysis to improve understanding of how to design adaptation programs and assure their successful implementation.

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Madolenihmw officials convicted of multiple charges related to theft of funds

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


April 11, 2021

Pohnpei—After many hearings, Pohnpei Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert Nakasone issued a judgment of conviction for four former Madolenihmw officials including the former magistrate, Petrick Ringlen.  The judgment, which was issued on March 2, only last week came to the attention of The Kaselehlie Press.  A sentencing hearing was scheduled for April 6, but was postponed.

Last year, Pohnpei State charged the four with various crimes after a Pohnpei Office of the Public Auditor revealed that they had been receiving significant, unauthorized payroll advances, some for more than a decade.  Besides Ringlen, the convicted officials were Maioleen Etse, the Madolenihmw government treasurer; Sohnasem George, an account clerk; and Hernet Ringlen, a tax collector for Madolenihmw.

The four were each initially charged with Grand Larceny, Embezzlement, Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition of Funds Received, Misconduct in Public Office, and Criminal Conspiracy.

According to the March 2 judgment, prosecutors agreed to dismiss the charge of Criminal Conspiracy.

The judgment said that prosecutors had also offered the opinion that a person could not be simultaneously charged with Grand Larceny and Embezzlement. They offered to dismiss the charge of Grand Larceny. 

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