FSM Minister says GEF support critical Pacific Islands manage 25 million sq km of ocean

MADANG, PAPUA NEW GUINEA, SEPTEMBER 2010: The Minister of Environment in the Federated States of Micronesia has made a strong and urgent statement to support the continuation of GEF funding for the Pacific Islands Oceanic Fisheries Management Project.

Honorable Andrew Yatilman, Director of the Office of Environment and Emergency Management, Government of the Federated States of Micronesia, told fellow Ministers it is critical that ongoing GEF support be provided if the small island developing states of the region are to continue to make gains to control their 25 million square kilometres of ocean.

In thanking the Global Environment Facilty (GEF), he said: “The waters of the Pacific Island countries are home to the world’s largest stocks of tuna and related pelagic species and they are custodians of a significant part of the Earth’s major international waters ecosystems, a significant global responsibility for some of the smallest nations on the earth.

We have benefited greatly through the GEF supported Pacific Islands Oceanic Fisheries Management Project that has endeavoured to address the weaknesses in the management of oceanic fisheries resources in the Pacific. GEF intervention through this project, has made possible the level and quality of PIC engagement and commitment that has contributed directly to the establishment of the Western and Central Pacific Tuna Commission to ensure the effective conservation and management of the region’s highly migratory fish stocks in this region.

The Federated States of Micronesia hosts the WCPFC Commission and is concerned at any possible reduction in the effectiveness of the regional management system that we have struggled so hard to develop over many years. We therefore, endorse the extension of further work in these areas of oceanic fisheries management in the Pacific under the fifth GEF project cycle, as have other Pacific Island Countries at regional fisheries governance meetings.

Colleagues, regional fisheries management is at a crucial point as tuna catch levels continue to increase while the initial conservation and management measures adopted have not yet had sufficient opportunity to take full effect. This is simply not the right time to have a lapse in our level of diligence and engagement.”

Honourable Yatilman concluded by urging GEF to review at the earliest, the five year, $13 million dollar continuation of the Pacific Islands Oceanic Fisheries Management Project targeting the fifth GEF funding cycle that commenced in July 2010. The focus of the next phase of the project is expected to concentrate on the smaller of the Pacific Islands States and climate change amongst other related oceanic management issues.