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FSM Congress Leads Geopolitical Group At 138th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly

Yap Congressional Delegation Office
April 24, 2018
 
GENEVA, Switzerland — On March 24, 2018, at the 138th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, Switzerland, the Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) assumed the chairmanship of the IPU’s Asia-Pacific Group (APG). This geopolitical group represents two thirds of the world's population, including countries as diverse and populous as China, India, Indonesia, Japan and Iran, in addition to Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The APG is one of six geopolitical groups in the IPU, and is comprised of 34 national parliaments.
 
Speaker Wesley W. Simina presided over the APG meeting at which major issues of policy were discussed, including the possibility of changes to the Statutes and Rules of the IPU. The APG also agreed upon endorsements for a number of high-level positions in the various standing committees of the IPU.
 
As Chairman of the APG, Speaker Simina ensured fair representation of the APG member countries on the IPU’s Executive Committee and other groups by reviewing and coordinating with the member parliaments the nominations of candidates on various committees and groups. He also coordinated the APG’s positions on key issues on the agenda of 138th IPU Assembly, as well as attend a number of bilateral meetings with the IPU President, the Secretariat, and other geopolitical group Chairs on matters internal to the IPU.
 
The Asia-Pacific Group was also honored by the presence of Madam Gabriela Cuevas Barron, the new President of the IPU, at the group’s meeting. At the invitation of Speaker Simina, Madam Cuevas Barron addressed the APG on her visions for the IPU.
 
The FSM Congress will serve as chair of this geopolitical group for the entire year, convening the next Asia-Pacific Group meeting at the 139th IPU Assembly in October 2018.
 
Aside from chairing the APG meeting, the FSM Congress delegation was also heavily involved in other activities during the 138th IPU Assembly which ran from March 24 – 28, 2018.
 
During the Governing Council meeting, the FSM delegation and a substantial number of other countries strove to put on the agenda an emergency item on Violence Against Women Parliamentarians. The FSM believes this is an issue of great importance upon which an IPU resolution could make a great impact. Unfortunately, the assembly could take up only one emergency item, and it chose during a late night vote to consider another important resolution.
 
This particular resolution speaks to the rights of the Palestinian people in Jerusalem in light of the recent UN Charter and resolutions on the subject matter. Although adopted by the majority of countries, nearly 30 countries, while in support of peace and the two-state solution on Israel and Palestine, expressed its reservations due to some texts in certain parts of the resolution.
 
In addition to voting on this and other resolutions and reports during the 138th IPU Assembly, the FSM delegation also engaged in a number of bilateral meetings with other national parliaments represented at the IPU. These included meeting the Speakers and Members of Parliaments from other Pacific Island countries including Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, and Vanuatu. This joint meeting primarily focused on common concerns and ways of addressing Pacific regional issues through the IPU. Other bilateral meetings, which mainly focused on enhancing parliamentary relations, included a meeting with the Speaker and Members of the Advisory Council or Majlis al-Shura of the State of Qatar, and a meeting with the Members of the Viet Nam National Assembly.
 
Speaker Simina was also appointed to serve twice as President of the Assembly during the 138th IPU Assembly general debate, which revolved around the theme: “Strengthening the global regime for migrants and refugees: The need for evidence-based policy solutions”. Senator Isaac V. Figir, former Speaker of the FSM Congress and current Chairman on the Congressional Committee on Ways and Means, addressed the Assembly on behalf of the FSM delegation during this debate.
 
Through its membership on the IPU, the FSM Congress has addressed a number of matters of national concern through such international parliamentary dialogues including, among other issues, migration and refugees, climate change, and nuclear disarmament. The FSM Congress has also deepened and expanded its bilateral relations with other national parliaments around the world. Through the IPU, it has also obtained access to information, data, and guides on improving local legislations on matters of national concern.
 
Under the leadership of Speaker Wesley W. Simina, the Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia continues to play an active and leading role in the world’s oldest national parliamentary organization – The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The IPU is an organization comprised of 178 countries, represented through their national parliaments, and 12 other associate members. The IPU also works closely with the United Nations and other international organizations sharing common goals. According to the IPU website, the IPU works with the world’s parliaments “to safeguard peace and drive positive democratic change through political dialogue and concrete action.” For more information on the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), please visit www.ipu.org.
 
For more information on the FSM Congress’ participation in the 138th IPU Assembly and on other activities of the FSM Congress, please visit www.cfsm.fm.

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Pacific Community adopts its first Social and Environmental Responsibility Policy

Secretariat of the Pacific Community

25 April 2018

Nouméa, New Caledonia – A Social and Environmental Responsibility (SER) policy applies to all the work of the Pacific Community (CPS) since 3 April 2018. On that date it was approved by SPC Director-General, Colin Tukuitonga. The SER policy aims to manage the social and environmental risks and impacts inherent to all SPC activities in an ethical and sustainable way, along three key areas: people, operations and programs.

The SER policy was developed by Aude Chenet, Coordinator of Environmental Sustainability, under the supervision of Sylvie Goyet, Director of the Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Program. The specialized technical expertise has received financial support from USAID-Climate READY .

The Social and Environmental Responsibility Policy will have a positive impact on individuals, enhancing the fulfilment of the staff and others involved in its activities, with SPC promoting diversity and inclusion, ensuring equal rights and forming a safe, healthy and dynamic work environment; it will also apply to operations, with SPC committing to environmental protection with a focus on carbon neutrality and zero waste; finally, SPC commits to supporting programmes and projects to deliver activities that maximise benefits while minimizing social impacts and environmental degradation.

The policy is now entering a "test phase". In SPC Divisions, practical activities will be implemented and evaluated; in the programs, three projects will apply it as a pilot. A SER practice group will be established to exchange knowledge, build capacity and cooperate in implementing the policy. This group will work in conjunction with the Regional Human Rights Education Team and the Social Development Programme, with an ultimate goal of systematically integrating SER into the overall functioning of the Organization.

“SER policies have been successful for two decades. They strengthen organizational cohesion and provide the social and environmental responsibility basis for sustainable development. For more than five years, SPC has been working to strengthen its environmental sustainability in its operations. By extending this logic to its programs, it is part of a dynamic that aligns perfectly with the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly those related to climate, equality and renewable energies”, says Aude Chenet at SPC.

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More fish imports from Chuuk on Guam’s SNAP days

By Gina T. Reilly

Pacific Island Times

   A research that looked at 12 years of commercial reef-fish trade data between Chuuk and Guam revealed a relation between increased exportation of fish products to government Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP) disbursement trends on Guam.

  The SNAP disbursement factor is just one findings in a University of Guam Marine Laboratory research called, “Disentangling Economic, Social, and Environmental Drivers of Coral-Reef Fish Trade in Micronesia” by Javier Cuetos-Bueno and Peter Houk.

   The study covered commercial fishing trends from 2003 to 2014.  As a federal program, SNAP provides nutrition assistance to low-income individuals and families. Using their monthly SNAP allowance, those who are eligible can obtain food items such as meat, fish, and vegetables from retailers. Current data indicate nearly one third of Guam residents participate in the program.

   According to the study, “SNAP recipients are believed to account for an important proportion of reef-fish demand in Guam, but no data are available to quantify their contribution.” However, the study noted a relationship between commercial fish exports from Chuuk and SNAP disbursement patterns. When reef-fish exports from Chuuk “increased steadily between 2003 and 2010 due to consumer demand on Guam, it was at a time when SNAP disbursements also doubled.

  After this period, the study said “a decoupling of SNAP issuance and annual exports followed the 2010 peak.” Between 2010 and 2014, importation decreased by an average of 25 metric tons per year, at an overall decrease of around 48 percent.  “This decline was driven by reduced profitability, as large increases in fish acquisition and airfreight costs reduced profits beyond sustainable thresholds,” according to the study.

    But looking at daily export trends, SNAP disbursement days also impact the amount of reef-fish exported to Guam. The study said “proximity to SNAP-days became the dominant predictor of modern daily exports, as larger proportions of Chuuk fish have increasingly been exported to Guam around these high-demand days.”

     “Daily exports were 30 percent and 18 percent higher than the overall monthly mean during the SNAP allowance days, and the days before-after respectively, with less variation on other days,” the study said.

   During the research period, export rates of reef-fish from Chuuk averaged at 148 MT per year, ranging from a minimum export rate of 108 MT in 2014, to a maximum of 206 MT in 2010. The fish imports had an average gross retail value of $1.5 million. According to the study, Chuuk and the other island had been a source of reef fish for Guam since local production cannot fulfil growing consumer demand. For the past decades, Chuuk has transported fish to Guam to support this need.

   However, with less fish importation from Chuuk, Guam’s local fish markets are now moving outside the Micronesian region to source out frozen reef-fish products. The study noted that evidence of similar expansions is “becoming increasingly noticeable across the tropics, highlighting growing concerns for small-scale fisheries in remote locales.”

   The research captured both inter-annual and intra-annual trends on reef-fish trade between the two locales by examining different economic, social, and environmental drivers. From a global perspective, the study said that looking at these drivers would help understand and manage coastal fishery resources in the area.

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Pacific maritime leaders see community based approach as key to improving safety at sea

Secretariat of the Pacific Community

25 April 2018

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea- Participants at the Third Domestic Ship Safety Forum have recommended adopting a community based approach involving end users of domestic ship services to improve safety at sea.

The Third Domestic Ship Safety Forum was organised by the Pacific Community (SPC), the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Government of Papua New Guinea. The forum was attended by representatives from Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, along with regional and international partners.

The gathering provided an opportunity to examine challenges and discuss possible solutions for emerging and persistent issues in relation to domestic shipping safety in the Pacific as well as consider the responsibilities of ship operators and maritime administrations in this matter.

Speaking at the official opening of the Forum, the Hon Westly Nukundj, Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Transport and Infrastructure said, “We acknowledge that this meeting with support from the regional and international maritime organisations plays an important role in facilitating discussions that are mutually beneficial to our countries. It provides an avenue to stimulate solutions to common challenges while identifying priorities for inclusive and sustainable development.”

Domestic ship services are a major part of the transport system in Pacific Island Countries and while issues relating to ship safety in the region remain an ongoing challenge, the potential of adopting a more community based approach was proposed as a way to make significant progress towards safety at sea. Participants agreed to explore ways to promote a community-based approach towards safe, accessible, green and efficient domestic shipping that supports resilient development of Pacific communities.

Bekir Sitki Ustaoglu, Head Asia-Pacific Section of IMO Technical Co-operation Division highlighted the importance of ensuring maritime safety is seen as a common priority for both government and industry leaders saying, “This is a platform where we are trying to obtain direct input from all stakeholders in matters related to the safety of domestic ferries. The dependence of Pacific Islanders on inter-island shipping is of paramount importance and every effort must be made by government and industry alike to ensure that only safe ships sail.”

Thierry Nervale SPC’s Deputy Director for Oceans and Maritime, stressed his organizations support for a more community based approach and committed to providing the technical support required to implement this methodology. “Providing technical support to ship operators and maritime administrations is at the core of our programme.”, said Mr. Nervale, “SPC will support the implementation of the forum activities and a new approach towards safer domestic shipping focusing on community needs requires improved maritime governance.”

The Forum reiterated that all stakeholders in the Pacific, work towards ensuring that all vessels operate in a sound and safe condition, posing no danger to the lives of those on board or to the marine environment.

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“Read, Know, Grow” at this year’s Library Week

Pohnpei Public Library

April 24, 2018

DSCN7179This year Pohnpei Public Library celebrated its 33th Anniversary with a “Library Week,” from Monday, April 23 to Friday, April 27. The theme for this year’s celebration was “Read, Know, Grow”. On April 24, International Organization of Migration (IOM) did a presentation on climate change that was participated by a group a students from Ohmine School called the Ohmine Environmental Club.

On Friday evening, the library held a special celebration to commemorate the anniversary and to recognize essay and art contest winners. This event began with a prayer by Wahnporon Bruce Robert followed by welcoming remarks by Head Librarian Lester Ezekias. This year, library was fortunate to have Mr. Atarino Helieisar, Chief Law Librarian for the FSM Supreme Court Law Library, to be the Keynote Speaker of the evening. On his speech, he shared the importance of reading and how it can lead to success.

The program ended with the presentations of awards to the students who were selected as winners for the art and essay contest. Art winners were Naven Jay, ECE, Awak School; Gibson Sohs, ECE, Awak School; Lishallay Sanel, ECE, Sapwalap School; Marsha Amor, 1st grade, Awak School; Grace Rodriquez, 1st grade, CCA School; Frank Primo, 1st grade. Awak School; Jayne Hadley, 2nd grade, Awak School; Jared Castro, 2nd grade, CCA School; Ariel Alosima, 2nd grade, CCA School; Ahlai Ehmes, 3rd grade, CCA School; Vera Pelep, 3rd grade, Awak School; Melon Maya Helgenberger, 3rd grade, Palikir School; Cwissyella Elimo, 4th grade, Nett School; Lotoya Ladore, 4th grade, Awak School; Lavinya Ladore, 4th grade, Awak School.IMG 0116

Essay winners were Caroleen Eliam, 5th grade, Ohmine School; Mariza Mellan Hawley, 5th grade, Awak School, Aldred Rodel Tecson, 5th grade, Kolonia School; Beulah Tamani, 6th grade, Nett School; Faith Jewel Wynn, 6th grade, SDA School; Jayne Fredrick, 6th grade, Seinwar School; Isabella Kostka, 7th grade, Awak School; Keavae Adams, 7th grade, CCA School; Vanicka Oliver, 7th grade, Nett School; Jesian Lawrence, 8th grade, Ohmine School; Kekoa Apis, 8th grade, Nett School, Kacheana Tolenoa, 8th grade, Nett School; Theo Thiesen, 10th grade, SDA School; Shaquille Nimea, 10th grade, SDA School; Audrey Antreas, 10th grade, Our Lady of Mercy; Rhea Tisha Kephas, 11th grade, Our Lady of Mercy; Nick Raifmai, 11th grade, Our Lady of Mercy; Mermy Jeanette Yamada, 11th grade, SDA School; Gary Olter, 12th grade, Our Lady of Mercy; Kiana Edwin, 12th grade, CCA School; Alliyah Tecson, 12th grade, SDA School.

Pohnpei Public Library wants to express its gratitude to the following businesses, individuals and agencies for their contributions and support that made this Library Week successful one. Sponsors include Ms. Denise Oen, Ms. Maria Isabele Lojan, Ms. Catherine Allen, Mr. Lucas Cupps, Ms. Alsihner Kusto,MicroPc.fm, Pohnpei Rotary Club, Ocean View- West Wing, Ohmine Environmental Club, International Organization for Migration, Sea Breeze, Nihco Store, Joy Restaurant, Isamu Nakasone Store, FSM Development Bank, China Star Restaurant, Caroline Fisheries Corporation, Ace Office Supplies, Ace Hardware, 4-TY Enterprises, Kaselehlie Diner, Palm Terrace, Pohnpei Arts &  Crafts, Pohnpei Hardware, Pohnpei LP Gas, and Pohnpei Service Station.”

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PII in limbo as judge axes hearing

Marshall Islands Journal

Pacific International Inc.’s claim against the FSM government is currently in legal limbo, after an FSM Supreme Court judge abruptly cancelled a scheduled hearing for February 23 and has not issued notice for a new hearing nearly two months later.

At 5:15pm on February 22, FSM Judge Bealeen Carl-Worswick “vacated” a hearing scheduled for the following day, “due to a scheduling conflict.” She said “the court will reschedule this matter by future court order.”

As of this week, eight weeks since the hearing was cancelled, no new hearing date has been scheduled by Carl-Worswick.

A major pending issue is PII’s motion before the judge to put a hold on the litigation and “compel the parties to arbitrate their claims.”

The arbitration motion follows on a 2015 mediation session between the FSM government and PII at which a written agreement was reached to partially settle the dispute over the Chuuk road project based on a conditional payment to PII and then proceeding to binding arbitration. After the agreement was signed, the FSM government said it could not bind the FSM Congress to the agreed-to $2 million payment because the Congress and not the executive branch has authority for spending. Judge Carl-Worswick also rejected a summary judgment motion by PII, saying without the concurrence of both President Peter Christian and the FSM Congress, the mediation agreement was unenforceable.

However, despite this, there was no dispute over the plan to send the dispute to binding arbitration, said PII attorney Thomas Tarpley, who is based in Guam. “The parties agreed that the entire dispute would be submitted to and decided by arbitrators regardless of the settlement terms, which would be addressed post-arbitration,” said PII’s motion to the court to order the dispute to arbitration.

But the FSM Attorney General’s office opposed the move, saying “it does not appear that PII is ready or prepared to proceed to trial. “Instead, it appears appears that PII is again tempting to enforce the terms of the June 3, 2015 document which has previously been presented to and rejected by the court as legally enforceable,” said FSM Assistant Attorney General Craig Reffner.

Without a court date, PII’s motion is languishing two months since the judge cancelled the status conference and four months since the motion was filed.

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Coast Guard, Navy complete joint OMSI patrol in Pacific Ocean

U.S. Coast Guard 14th District Hawaii and the Pacific

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard and Navy completed a 24-day joint mission in the Western and Central Pacific under the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative to combat transnational crimes, enforce fisheries laws and enhance regional security, Wednesday.

A Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment from Tactical Law Enforcement Team Pacific embarked USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) and conducted 12 fisheries enforcement boardings with the assistance of the ship’s visit, board, search and seizure team and law enforcement shipriders from the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

All boardings were conducted in the exclusive economic zones; eight were in Federated States of Micronesia and four in Republic of the Marshall Islands.

Coast Guard teams and Pacific Island Nation shipriders routinely conduct combined boardings within the host country's exclusive economic zones to protect the ocean and the living marine resources within.

Boarding teams conducted inspections of the vessels to ensure compliance with individual nation’s laws and regulations and conservation management measures.

“The goal of combined efforts by the Navy and Coast Guard through the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative mission is to combat transnational crime threats, including narco-trafficking, human trafficking, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,” Lt. Cmdr. Kenji Awamura, district response enforcement operations planner at Coast Guard 14th District. “In keeping with USS Michael Murphy’s motto, OMSI 'Leads the Fight' in combating these activities. IUU fishing undermines efforts to conserve and manage global fish stocks and negatively impacts economies of Oceania States. In partnership with Australia, New Zealand, France, and the Pacific Island nations, OMSI promotes economic and environmental stability throughout Oceania.”

Partnership between the Coast Guard and Navy supports OMSI, a Secretary of Defense program to use Department of Defense assets transiting the Pacific region to build maritime domain awareness, ultimately supporting the Coast Guard's maritime law enforcement operations in Oceania.

“I am proud to say that the crew performed superbly across all mission areas as well as being tremendous ambassadors afloat and ashore for the United States throughout our deployment,” said Cmdr. Kevin Louis, commanding officer of USS Michael Murphy.

The Coast Guard is responsible for patrolling the waters around the numerous islands belonging to the United States throughout the region. Each of these islands has territorial waters stretching out to 12 nautical miles from shore. Beyond that, stretching out to 200 nautical miles is an exclusive economic zone, an area defined by international law that allows each nation exclusive rights to the exploration and use of the marine resources within.

Oceania contains 43 percent, or approximately 1.3 million square miles, of United States' EEZs.

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