3 May 2018

Range of resolutions reached at Micronesian Islands Forum

11:44 am on 3 May 2018

Agreements on climate change and illegal fishing were among a slew of resolutions signed by leaders last week at the 23rd Micronesian Islands Forum in Saipan.

Saipan in the Northern Marianas.

Saipan in the Northern Marianas. Photo: Supplied

Leaders from Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, the Northern Marianas and Guam reached an accord on climate change that ties in directly with food security in the region.

The forum recognised that within about 20 years, the distribution of tuna stocks may begin to shift towards the central and eastern Pacific, while human populations within Micronesia are anticipated to grow 10 to 15 per cent within the same period.

The resolution, therefore, urges parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change to "respect the Paris Agreement and to work towards its full implementation."

The forum also resolved to combat illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing collectively by urging fishing nations to exercise control over their vessels, to refrain from supporting illegal fishing and by penalizing offenders.

According to a 2016 report, the amount of illegal tuna fishing in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean is estimated to be about 300,000 metric tons with a value of $US600 million.

A resolution to expand telehealth and telemedicine in the region was also passed by the MIF that stated its leaders will support executive and legislative efforts to ensure a supportive and enabling environment that enhances and expands health agency telehealth/telemedicine initiatives.

The MIF also passed a resolution that prioritises the development of sustainable transportation networks in the region to support economic development and stability of crucial air and sea transportation routes.

To this end, the MIF sent a formal request to US President Donald Trump, the US Department of Transportation secretary, and the US Office of Insular Affairs to support the transportation needs of the region.

It includes allowance of eligibility in the Essential Air Service Program and removal of the Cabotage Restrictions created under the U.S. Merchant Marine Act of 1920.

The US Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act, limits the availability of foreign-flagged air carriers to provide air transportation to distant locations in need of air services, while Cabotage Restrictions limits the transport of goods or passengers between two places in the same country by a transport operator from another country.

The MIF also passed a resolution that recognizes Micronesia as a region that plays a "vital role" to play, facilitate, and enhance further actions critical to staying within the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit as set under the Paris Agreement accord within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

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