By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press
April 18, 2017
Pohnpei, FSM—FSM President Peter M. Christian has signed into law an amendment doubling the distance from all FSM shore lines in which commercial marine activities are now banned. It is an idea that he proposed during a speech on the Congress floor when he was a Senator in the 18th Congress. But it wasn’t until April 4, during the last special session of the 19th Congress that the formalized bill, introduced by request by Floor Leader Florencio Singkoro Harper, was passed on second reading.
Ever since the FSM became a country, the closed area seaward from FSM shore lines has extended only 12 nautical miles out to sea. The new law doubles that distances to 24 nautical miles.
If an operator is caught exploiting natural resources within the 24 nautical mile zone, he can be fined not more than $15,000 and not more than $50,000. The FSM would then have the discretion to exclude the operator from a future license or fishing negotiation. The law allows the FSM to provide discretionary exemption to the closed area to locally owned fishing companies.
It’s a significant step but still not quite half the distance of the closures in some other Pacific Islands countries, some with much smaller exclusive economic zones than the FSM which has the second largest EEZ in the Western and Central Pacific.
Conservation organizations are applauding the move.