Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

Team Kosrae Wins National Law Day Debates at the FSM Supreme Court

Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services): July 13, 2010 - On July 12, 2010, in honor of the 2010 National Law Day, the four 2010 FSM State Champion High School Debate Teams, took their seats at the FSM Supreme Court to debate for and against the following proposition: "BE IT RESOLVED that in the best interest of securing the greatest possible benefit for the people of the FSM from the natural resources within the FSM Exclusive Economic Zone, all foreign fishing, and all fishing by entities in which non FSM citizens own greater than a 49% interest, shall be prohibited by law."

The teams consisted of Cyril Gorongayin and Brandy Yinug of Yap High School, Easson Eas and Gwendolyn Nakayama of Saramen Chuuk Academy, Kimo Carl and Marisa Stallings of Calvary Christian Academy, and Joshua Hadik and Neelma Skilling of Kosrae High School.

Prior to the debates, Mr. Kasio Mida Jr., Esq., keynote speaker, appealed to the debaters to seriously consider pursuing a career in the practice of law. Mida Jr. outlined that the timing was right for new young lawyers in the FSM because not only does the country have a dire need for more lawyers, there are scholarships available currently to assist students in their graduate degrees. He explained that as lawyers they could have a direct impact in building the future of the FSM and preserving its culture; and also highlighted that graduating in law offered a variety of career opportunities, be it to practice in the private sector, public sector or within the executive branch of government.

Acting Chief Justice Martin Yinug of the FSM Supreme Court also addressed the audience and welcomed the opportunity to honor the rhetorical skills of the debaters. He explained that through debate, these students are able to sharpen their analytical skills and critical thinking skills. "It is not how much you know," he said, "but how it is expressed and used."

Each debate team was required to argue both in favor and against the proposed resolution. All four debates centered on the issue of the need to conserve the nation's resources on the one hand, by limiting the access to the EEZ to foreign vessels and thereby protecting and strengthening the fish supply; and on the other hand, maintaining the access open to foreign fishing, to ensure incoming revenue for the FSM from licensing fees.

Some interesting statistics were brought up by the debate teams. All teams stressed that 25% of the world's tuna resources are located within the FSM Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Pohnpei team, when arguing in favor of limiting access of the EEZ to foreign fishing companies, stated that currently these companies make $144 million per year from fishing in the EEZ, whereas local FSM fishing companies make an average of $1.6 million per year. The Kosrae team, also when arguing for the proposition, revealed that the FSM imports $2.5 million of canned tuna per year and proposed cutting down on such imports.

Mr. Kapilly Capelle, director of the FSM Supreme Court, closed the ceremony by stating that "whatever the outcome, you are all champions to us, thank you for entertaining us and giving us interesting information regarding the proposed resolution." Cappelle announced that the Kosrae Debate Team represented by Neelma Skilling and Joshua Hadik were the winners of the 2010 National Law Day Debate and will be awarded scholarships towards their college tuition. Counting yesterday's victory, Kosrae has won the National Law Day Debate for the past 5 years in a row and has won a total of 10 of the past 14 annual competitions.

Skilling and Hadik said that they had practiced for this debate every day for the past five weeks and had originally been selected by their High School Speech Class teacher to participate in the National Law Day debate as they had proven to be the best speakers in their class. Skilling said she will be attending the College of Micronesia in the Fall of 2010, and is hoping to major in health; Hadik will be attending Northland International University in Wisconsin and is hoping to major in music.

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