September 03, 2012

By FSM Information Services
The Kaselehlie Press

August 22, 2012 Palikir, Pohnpei - At Dehketik, Pohnpei, a handover ceremony for the FSS Unity was held earlier today at the wharf site of the FSM Maritime Wing, FSM National Police, marking the transfer of the assistance of a sixteen-meter long patrol craft from the Nippon Foundation, through the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Japan.

According to earlier information from the FSM National Police, the FSS Unity is an assistance under the Nippon Foundation's Project for Improvement of the Coast Guard Capability in Micronesian Region, funded by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation to strengthen maritime surveillance against illegal fishing, search and rescue operations and disaster prevention capabilities.

On the handover occasion, Acting Secretary of the Department of Justice, Mr. Johnson Asher, reiterated the FSM's gratitude to its development partners who have contributed to the strengthening and capacity building of the maritime surveillance services, such as the United States, the Government of Australia and most notably today, the Government of Japan.

"I can assure you that the FSS Unity and the communication facility will be utilized in a manner that maximizes the maritime wing's capacity to effectively carryout coastal law enforcement services, search and rescue operations as well as emergency responses", said Mr. Asher.

Mr. Takeju Ogata, President of the Nippon Foundation, said that the foundation has joined forces with the Micronesian countries, the governments of Japan, the United States and Australia, as well as other international organizations to enhance surveillance of maritime zones in the region and prevent unwanted situations, citing increases in illegal fishing operations, overfishing, maritime pollution as well as "accidental distress and crime at sea".

Mr. Ogata, through an interpreter, spoke of the difficult nature of maritime surveillance issues and challenges saying, "no country individually, unilaterally and bilaterally can effectively deal with these transnational issues" in the vast maritime areas which, he said, "must be addressed to keep the peace and prosperity of the Micronesian countries and livelihood of the people".

At the end of his remarks, Mr. Ogata stated his wish that FSM, located as a "center" for the three Micronesian Nations, continues to help consolidate the unity amongst Japan, the United States and Australia.

"I thank the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia for providing me this opportunity of great cooperation", was Mr. Ogata's concluding statement.

Speaking at a dinner reception on the same day as part of the handover celebrations, Secretary Francis Itimai, FSM Department of Transportation, Communication and Infrastructure, official focal point for this project as designated by President Mori, recalled that the assistance plan was approved in March, 2010 at a meeting in Japan involving the three Micronesian countries, the United States, Australia and Japan along with the Nippon Foundation and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.

Part of the assistance plan, according to Secretary Itimai, are to build a training and coordination center for the Micronesian Region, upgrade surveillance communication capability, and conduct a feasibility study for construction of a fuel depot in Kapinga Atoll, among others.

Secretary Itimai also underscored that most components of the plan have been accomplished as approved by the three Micronesian Presidents at their 8th Summit, except for the establishment of the Micronesian Training and Coordination Center that is to be built in the FSM.

Both the ceremony and the reception were attended by the Lieutenant Governor of Pohnpei State, Mr. Mercello Petersen; Senator Edwin, Pohnpei State Legislature; the Ambassadors from Japan, United States, Peoples Republic of China and Australia; high level members of the United States and Japan Coast Guards; as well as some Cabinet Members from the FSM National Government and a number of National and State Officials.

Also present were other members of the Nippon Foundation and representatives of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, the Japan Association of Marine Safety, FSM National Police Maritime Wing and the Pohnpei State Port Authority.

For more information, 320- 2548 or email fsmpio@mail.fm.