COLONIA, Yap—During the State Visit to Yap, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)—joined the Honorable Jesse J. Salalu, Governor of the State of Yap, in a signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Government of the FSM, the State of Yap, and Blue Prosperity Coalition, so as to declare their collective commitment to Blue Prosperity Micronesia. Ted Waitt, Founder & Chair of the Waitt Institute, signed in absentia and on behalf of the Blue Prosperity Coalition. Also joining the signing ceremony as observers were the Honorable Isaac V. Figir, Senator representing Yap in the 22nd FSM Congress, members of Yap State’s leadership, including traditional chiefs, the Honorable Vincent
Figir, Speaker of Yap State’s Legislature and other Members of the 10th Yap State Legislature, and representatives of Yap State’s Judiciary, as well as Her Excellency Jo Cowley, Ambassador of Australia to the FSM, and the Honorable Benjamin Dille, Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States of America to the FSM.
Citizens may recall that the FSM and Blue Prosperity Coalition signed an MOU in July 2019 to support the nation’s efforts to advance sustainable ocean use. The resulting program generated by that MOU is Blue Prosperity Micronesia, a five-year nation-wide initiative with the aim to protect 30% of the FSM’s waters, develop strategies for economic well-being, and strengthen existing fisheries management to support the sustainable growth of the FSM’s marine resources for current and future generations.
Blue Prosperity Micronesia remains one of the Panuelo-George administration’s top priorities. What the MOU signed between the FSM National Government, the Yap State Government, and Blue Prosperity Coalition represents is, firstly, an acknowledgment of Blue Prosperity Micronesia’s overarching goals and intentions; secondly, to clarify and confirm that the State of Yap has the authority to manage its marine environment zero to twelve nautical miles from shore, including authority related to economic activities, human use, fisheries, and protected areas; thirdly, a recognition that the State of Yap has committed to achieving the goals of the Micronesia Challenge (which seeks to protect and effectively manage 50% of coastal territory and 30% of terrestrial territory by 2030); fourthly, an agreement that broad consultation among stakeholders is essential, as such consultation would consider community-based conservation and management efforts, traditional knowledge, and practices of local communities with respect to sustainable and equitable conservation; and fifthly, to agree to support the July 2019 MOU between the FSM Government and Blue Prosperity Coalition, including to work in partnership to develop a comprehensive, legally-binding marine spatial plan for Yap’s coastal waters that uses best available information with a series of steps and expected timelines, and with technical and financial support from the Blue Prosperity Coalition. Blue Prosperity Micronesia seeks to work across all levels of government and, with this MOU, acknowledges that the work within Yap must support the Yapese communities, while also strengthening the prosperity of the FSM as a while.
In his comments to the attendees at the signing ceremony, President Panuelo noted his appreciation for “traditional sensitivity of ownership of the reefs being that of the chiefs”, and equally his appreciation that the fourth branch of Yap State’s Government, the traditional leadership, had shown full support for Blue Prosperity Micronesia.
As a first step following the signing, the MOU partners will convene to develop a work plan for Blue Prosperity Micronesia in Yap that is expected to include a coastal marine spatial planning process, and broad community consultations in water science, policy development, and outreach.