Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

Micronesia signs cooperation in fisheries and law enforcement

Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Information Service): February 19, 2002 - On Thursday February 07 2002, the three Micronesian Governments met in the Majuro for the signing of an agreement for Cooperation in Fisheries and Law Enforcement.

According to the agreement, the intention of the governments involved, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), and the Republic of Palau (ROP), is to enhance their ability to:

  1. Effectively enforce fisheries, customs and immigration laws;
  2. Deter breaches of such laws' and;
  3. Cooperate closely with each other in pursuing these important goals.

The Agreement signed by the three Governments committed each to working more closely together and to have in place a mechanism for conducting joint operations.

The Agreement was signed by the following country representatives:

FSM - the Honorable Paul E. McIlrath, Secretary of the Department of Justice;

RMI - the Honorable Whitten T. Phillipo, Minister of Justice and;

ROP - the Honorable Michael J. Rosenthal, Minister of Justice.

Under the Agreement the three nations may request each others assistance in patrols and it will allow the nations to enter each others waters when executing provisions of the Agreement.

The initial idea for the tri-lateral agreement was envisioned back in 1992 when the three governments became parties to the Niue Treaty on Cooperation in Fisheries Surveillance and Law enforcement in the South Pacific region.

The host of the ceremony, Minister Philippo of RMI recognized and thanked the Government of Australia for its vital role in the maritime surveillance program of each nation and its effort in assuring the execution of the agreement.

He expressed the three countries appreciation to Australia's Ambassador to Micronesia, Ambassador Brendan Doran, "May I covey to you Mr Ambassador, our appreciation to your government for the continued support for the Pacific Maritime Surveillance program. We are very proud of our crew and the work that they do and recognise that the high standards that they achieve are greatly enhanced by the training they receive in Australia.

"I would also like to recognize and thank the representatives from our Micronesian neighbours the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau for their cooperation throughout the entire negotiation process. It is hoped that this spirit will continue to thrive and that joint operations under the agreement will commence soon.

"It is my understanding that this agreement is a first for the Pacific and has come about after a great deal of work from representatives from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and our good friends from Australia."

Secretary McIlrath of the FSM Department of Justice thanked the people involved in the process to ensure that the Agreement gets signed, he extended his appreciation to Government of Australia and said, "I especially would like to thank the government of Australia for its tireless efforts to assist our nations' to develop effective marine surveillance programs. I know that this agreement will be the start of many future cooperative agreements among our nations.

"Such cooperation will become all the more important in the years ahead, as political and economic factors compel us to nurture our individual resources."

Palau's Minister Rosenthal echoed the other nations sentiments, "the Republic of Palau extends its sincerest appreciation to the Australian Government for providing extraordinary assistance to the Republics patrol boat program..."

Rosenthal further said, "the signing of this agreement will benefit our three nations and the Republic of Palau looks forward to continued cooperation with the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Australian government."

Witnesses to the signing agreement include: Australia's Ambassador to Micronesia, H.E. Brendan Doran, and Australia's Maritime Surveillance Advisors (MSA) to Micronesia:

FSM - Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Greg Rochester;

RMI - Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Bob Thomas;

ROP - Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Bob Heffey.

Also attending the signing were heads of the Micronesia Maritime Surveillance:

FSM - Pius Chotailug, Chief of the FSM National Police and Marine Surveillance;

RMI - Major Thomas Heine, Chief of RMI Maritime Surveillance;

ROP - Chief Ellander Ngiraueketti, head of the Palau Maritime Surveillance.

The three governments met the following day to discussed the possibility of a joint training and patrol operation that would provide an opportunity to coordinate law enforcement exercise in regard to violations of fishing, customs and immigration laws and allow the crew to have practical experiences that include ship boardings.

Should the parties agree, the operation would commence in August of 2002, for a period of two to three weeks.

For further information on this release, please contact:

FSM Office of the President
Public Information: Press, Radio, Video
P.O Box 34
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092
Fax.: (691) 320-4356