Government of the Federated States of Micronesia






New York, November 28, 2001

Check Against Delivery

Mr. President,

It would be to no one's surprise that my delegation participates again in this year's debate at this session of the General Assembly on this agenda item of great importance. The ocean is especially critical to my country, the Federated States of Micronesia. For hundreds of years, our culture and livelihood has depended on the ocean's resources. So much of our identity and our essence as a people is tied up with the oceans that surround our islands. Many of our economic resources that will lead to the diversification of our economy can be found in the ocean. It is therefore not surprising that my delegation fully supports and is pleased to add its name to the list of co-sponsors of the two resolutions on oceans and fisheries now before us. We are also pleased to be associated with the statement delivered by the distinguished Ambassador of Nauru on behalf of the members of the Pacific Islands Forum.

My delegation commends the progress made by this General Assembly in its annual review of Oceans and the Law of the Sea. Issues covered in this debate and the present resolutions are most important facing my country.

Earlier in May of this year, the informal Consultative Process on oceans issues continued to address aspects of oceans and law of the sea, and provided for this Assembly with an invaluable and constructive tool for its review of developments in this area. The future work of the informal Consultative Process is vitally important in our efforts to develop a cogent and comprehensive ocean policy. It provides an avenue to address comprehensively the realities and challenges facing us in this new millennium.

Mr. President,

While this one day debate on the Oceans and Law of the Sea cannot address all of the broader oceans and law of the sea concerns, a few in particular stand out today as having critical importance to my delegation, and in fact to many of the island states in the Pacific region.

One of utmost important progress is the recent decision by state parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) last May to extend the timeframe for the de-limitation of the continental shelf. For those of us from the coastal states, we can fully understand and appreciate the importance of such an extension. The decision to do so has many implications in terms of our economy, as well as our own enjoyment of ocean and coastal resources. My delegation commends the cooperation and goodwill shown to small islands developing states by state parties to the Convention on the Law of the Sea for their demonstrated commitment to a cooperative solution in addressing an outstanding issue of importance to many of us.

Despite all the efforts undertaken by the international community for a new deadline for submissions to the Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf, the actual problem of "getting it done" remains a basic concern for many small islands developing states. For a small country like the Federated States of Micronesia, it is clear that the preparation and presentation of a submission remains a complex task, requiring significant amounts of financial resources, capacity and expertise. We continue to call upon the international community and the many international organizations to help us develop the necessary manpower and technical capacity to ensure that we are able to exercise our rights and fulfill our obligations under the Convention. Their support, financial or otherwise, is most appreciated. Capacity building is seen by many of us from the small islands developing states as one of the key areas our developed partners and the international organizations are well positioned to help us develop from the ground up.

Mr. President,

It is important to realize that the pleas of small island states like mine for action against fishing conducted illegally, or in an unregulated way are not merely self-serving. The indiscriminate destruction and loss of vast ocean resources is a threat to a large portion of the world, and careful management and monitoring is needed to address these problems. The Convention of the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific, made pursuant to the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention and the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks addresses these problems. Implementation of this new Convention, which my country and many Pacific island nations have signed, ensures the rational conservation, management and thus sustainability of migratory fish stocks in the Convention area.

Recently the Government of Malta, became the thirtieth State party to the Implementing Agreement on the Conservation and Management of the Straddling and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks. With that milestone, the Agreement is now on the brink of its entry into force. My government congratulates its sister AOSIS member state, Malta, for this distinguished achievement.

As the United Nations continues to seek effective means to preserve an important heritage of mankind, its ability to do so successfully depends to a large extend on the ratification and implementation of UNCLOS and its associated instruments.

Mr. President,

I would be remised if I do not extend the gratitude of my delegation to the coordinators of the two resolutions before this Assembly for their diligent efforts and craftsmanship and for their well-balanced approach to an important but complex issue. My government fully supports these resolutions, and humbly calls upon the members of this Assembly to lend their support.

I thank you Mr. President.