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Environmental Crime Legal Framework In Micronesia

The National Government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) oversees important roles in the country’s environmental governance such as the regulation of fisheries and other resource use in the exclusive economic zone, as well as ensuring implementation of multilateral environment agreements (MEAs). The national government has the power to set minimum standards in all areas related to:

  • public health
  • air quality
  • water quality
  • waste management.

  • The national government can also be involved in any environmental matters that involve :

  • (1) a threat to public health
  • (2) the traditions of the people of the FSM
  • (3) clear effects on foreign or interstate commerce
  • (4) all mining, mineral, and marine resource issues 12- miles beyond island baselines
  • (5) foreign technical or financial assistance for biodiversity protection
  • Featured Legislation

    1982: The Compact of Free Association was signed and was approved by the citizens of the FSM in a plebiscite in 1983. The Compact of Free Association is a binding bilateral treaty between the Federated States of Micronesia and the United States, providing for U.S. economic assistance for sustainable development. The treaty encourages The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia to develop standards and procedures substantively similar to those required of the Government of the United States to protect their environment:

    1983: The Federated States of Micronesia National Fishing Corporation Act was implemented. The purpose of this Chapter is to establish a public corporation to promote the development of pelagic fisheries and related industries within the extended fishery zone, as defined under 18 FSMC 104, for the benefit of the people of the Federated States of Micronesia. Subject to any existing limitation or limitations hereafter enacted, the Corporation, through its officers and agents, is authorized to engage in all commercial activities which will further the development of the fishing and fisheries industry in the Federated States of Micronesia. The affairs of the Corporation shall be managed and its corporate powers exercised by a Board of Directors.

    • The Endangered Species Act
    • The Clean Air Act
    • The Clean Water Act (Federal Water Pollution Control Act)
    • The Ocean Dumping Act
    • The Toxic Substances Control Act
    • The Resources Conservation and Recovery Act

    1992: A Constitutional Division of Environmental Responsibilities was drafted, presenting a Joint Opinion of FSM’s National and State governance mechanisms.

    1992: The Pohnpei State Legislature passed State Law No 3L-26-92, the Pohnpei Environmental Protection Act. This law, an updated version of the Trust Territory Environmental Quality Protection Act, establishes the Environmental Protection Agency, governed by its own Environmental Protection Board. The legislation was amended by State Law No 3L-45-93 (relating to regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency pertaining to mining and dredging and the removal of mined and dredged materials).

    1997: The National Maritime Act was passed, requiring all vessels to be registered in the Federated States of Micronesia.

    1999: The Pohnpei Marine Sanctuary and Wildlife Refuge Act was ratified, identifying and designating ecologically significant areas of the terrestrial and marine environment as state marine sanctuaries and wildlife refuges. The legislation also provides authority for comprehensive and coordinated conservation and management of these terrestrial and marine areas, and activities affecting them.

    2006: Conservation and Management Measures for Bigeye and Yellowfin Tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean were adopted, requiring provisions to prohibit landings, transshipment and commercial transactions in tuna and tuna products that are positively identified as originating from fishing activities that contravene any element of the Commission’s conservation and management measures.

    2006: The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Boarding and Inspection Procedures were established, governing high seas boarding and inspections, empowering its boarding and inspection officials to carry out boarding and inspection on the high seas of fishing vessels engaged in or reported to have engaged in fishery regulated pursuant to the Convention.

    2007: Public Law 15-09 was enacted,  reorganizing FSM National Government Administration. The legislation was supplemented by Presidential Order No 1 which set out the specific roles of each Department and Office – namely, the Office of Environment and Emergency Management (OEEM), which is now the primary location for environment-related matters in the FSM National Government.

    2015: The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) was unveiled. It is a nationwide multi-sectoral policy document. In the INDC, the FSM commits to unconditionally reduce by 2025 a 28% its GHGs emissions below emissions in year 2000; Similarly, subject to the availability of additional financial, technical and capacity building support from the international community, the FSM could do by 2025 an additional reduction up to 35% below emissions in the 2000 base year. The coverage of the mitigation efforts include: energy sector’s electricity generation, and transport subsectors.

    Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

    • The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) are vulnerable to the most serious transnational organized crime types impacting the Pacific. In particular, FSM has witnessed an uptick in fisheries crimes, due to the size of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and limited capacity for law enforcement personnel to patrol these waters. While officials are uncertain of the full extent of the threat that fisheries crimes pose (due to limited data), reports have revealed that that the transnational mobility of fishing vessels enhances the reach of fisheries crimes and the opportunity for said crimes to align with additional transnational organized crimes – namely, drug trafficking, human trafficking, and migrant smuggling. For example, FSM has expressed concern over a growing number of Vietnamese ‘Blue Boats’ illegally fishing in Pacific EEZs. Blue Boats are small scale operations which do not pay fees nor transmit location information, creating many obstacles for regulation and enforcement. Micronesian countries anticipate that this threat will continue.

    References and Further Reading

    Contacts

    FSM Department of Environment, Climate Change and Emergency Management (DECEM): fsmdecem@fsmdecem.fm