Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

Statement by

H.E. Ambassador Masao Nakayama
Permanent Representative of the
Federated States of Micronesia to the
United Nations

Before the 59th United Nations General Assembly
on Agenda Item 49: Oceans and the law of the sea

New York, 17 November 2004

Check Against Delivery

Mr. President,

I have the honor to address this body on behalf of the Delegation of the Federated States of Micronesia. My remarks will be brief, but being brief does not diminish my delegation's concerns toward the agenda items before us. These concerns are deeply held.

Micronesia agrees and fully associates itself with the statement delivered earlier by the distinguished representative of Samoa on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum Group.

My delegation is grateful for the comprehensive annual report on oceans and law of the sea produced by the Secretary General. We thank also the Division of Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) for the important work they carry out in this area, and for their unwavering support in facilitating the work of the informal negotiations. I need also to refer with gratitude to the dedicated efforts of so many delegations, and here, naturally, we must give special thanks to Brazil, the United States and New Zealand as coordinators of the resolutions before us.

My delegation, Mr. President, is not in unfamiliar territory in speaking here today on this subject. We know too well the significance that the oceans play in the lives of our own people. Micronesia, a developing nation, is an oceanic state. Our Micronesian history began in the days when man explored seas in rafts and canoes. The seas bring us together; they do not separate us. Our oceans sustain us; its resources enrich us. Our people continue to rely on the bounties of the ocean for sustenance and for economic development.

Experience has shown us that the state of ocean affairs, to put it plainly, remains precarious. Indiscriminate destruction of the ocean resources by large-scale pelagic drift net fishing, while generally on the decline, remains a threat to marine living resources.

The continued shipment of plutonium and radioactive wastes through our Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) remains of great concern. Our Pacific Ocean is a vital breadbasket for the entire planet. Any transshipment accident could have a serious impact on the livelihood of our peoples, our economies and would be felt far beyond our shores, for many generations to come.

Unauthorized fishing in zones of national jurisdictions and on the high seas, illegal unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) continues to be of concern. Micronesia owns a vast exclusive economic zone rich in fish resources. Like any small developing Pacific island state, we simply cannot act alone to manage and monitor illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in areas under our national jurisdiction. We require the cooperation of other States to take greater enforcement measures to ensure that their vessels do not engage in illegal unreported and unregulated fishing. States must also ensure that even when their vessels are authorized to fish in areas of national jurisdiction, they must comply faithfully with the terms of that authorization.

Mr. President of increasing and serious concern is the threat to marine habitats and the adverse impacts on vulnerable marine ecosystems caused by deep-sea trawling. Because it occurs at great depths and in areas beyond national jurisdictions, some may still not take this threat seriously. It is also fair to say here, that as science learns more about the impact of deep-sea trawling on marine biodiversity, the problem will be more obvious. The state parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at its seventh session have explicitly called on the United Nations to take action. Though, we realize that the issue will continue to be debated for years, we fear even more strongly that time is not on our side. The Precautionary Principle must guide our deliberations in addressing our concerns on this subject.

Mr. President,

Submissions to establish one's extended continental shelf is a difficult task for countries like mine, even within the extended timeframe. In the case of Micronesia, we lack the basic capacity and expertise necessary to acquire and collate the highly complex scientific data required for submission. This problem is further exacerbated by the lack of financial resources to actually get the work done. Without targeted assistance from the donor community, we will find it extremely difficult to make the required submission to the Commission.

Within the context of the Fish Stocks Agreement under the Convention on the Law of the Sea it is most gratifying to my delegation to note the significant achievement on the regional level. This year the Pacific region welcomed the coming into force of the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. The Convention is testament to our regional commitment as well as a cooperative approach by coastal states and distant water fishing nations (DWFN) towards sustainable conservation and management of our valuable fish stocks. We call on States and entities that have participated in the process of establishing the Convention to assign a high priority to cooperating fully in its administration.

My delegation is most humbled by the decision to consider the Federated States of Micronesia to host the Western and Central Pacific Tuna Commission established under the regional Convention. My country looks forward to hosting the final Preparatory Conference for the establishment of the Commission, and the Inaugural Session of the Commission. Those meetings will be held back-to-back early next month in our capitol.

I thank you Mr. President.