April 2002


Main landing places 

Landing sites for industrial tuna fishing vessels exist on the principal islands of each of four states of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), but as most of the vessels are based in Pohnpei, most offloading occurs there. Small-scale commercial fisheries are also focused on the population centres in each state, while subsistence fishery landings are scattered throughout the country.

Estimated landings by principal site (tonnes)


Offshore Locally-based

Coastal Commercial



Kolonia (Pohnpei)





Weno (Chuuk)





Colonia (Yap)





Lelu (Kosrae)















In addition to the above, 127,000 tonnes of fish was caught in 1999 by foreign-based offshore vessels.  This catch was not landed in FSM, but (a) for purse seine fish, at the canneries in American Samoa or transshipped to other processing facilities in Asia, or (b) for longline fish, in Guam or Japan, or (c) for pole/line fish, in Japan.  


Broad objectives 

According to Title 24, the main national legislation dealing with fisheries in FSM, government interventions in the fisheries sector are to promote conservation, management, and development of the marine resources of the Federated States of Micronesia, generate the maximum benefit for the Nation from foreign fishing, and to promote the development of a domestic fishing industry. 

In another sense, the objectives of management interventions by the national government in the fisheries sector are synonymous with the tuna management objectives given in a section below.  This is because the national government has jurisdiction over fisheries matters only in the EEZ where the only fisheries operating are those involving tuna. The four states of FSM1 have jurisdiction over waters within 12 nautical miles from island baselines.  

Overview of Government management strategy 

In the broadest terms, the national government’s management strategy is to manage the tuna resources of the EEZ, and leave any management/development of the fisheries within 12 miles of land to the concerned state.  Within this jurisdictional arrangement, the national government does endeavor to provide management assistance to the states, should they so request. This has consisted of information, access to consultant expertise, assistance with legislation, and help with enforcement. 

The four states have management strategies which range from centrally-administered open-access regimes to traditionally-controlled reef tenure systems. During the German administration period (1898 to 1914) the customary management systems in Pohnpei and Kosrae were abolished and the colonial government assumed management control of inshore marine areas.  Because this did not occur in Yap and only to some degree in Chuuk, traditional ownership and management authority is still recognized.   

Offshore tuna fisheries

The Federated States of Micronesia has monitored and controlled tuna fisheries within its jurisdiction since the national management agency, the Micronesian Fisheries Authority (MFA), was created in 1979. Under national legislation, the MFA has legal authority to manage the use of these resources under Congressional oversight. The law gives guidance to MFA, but the formulation and implementation of the management process is the responsibility of MFA.  During 2000 a plan for the management of tuna was formulated by the MFA with technical assistance from the Asian Development Bank.  The plan was officially adopted by the MFA in December 2000.

The species covered by the plan are:

  • Skipjack, Katsuwonus pelamis
  • Yellowfin tuna, Thunnus albacares
  • Bigeye tuna, Thunnus obesus
  • Albacore tuna, Thunnus alalunga

The Three tuna species are also covered under several regional management agreements and are soon to be covered under one international management arrangement. The regional management agreements are:

  • the Harmonized Minimum Terms and Conditions for Foreign Fishing Vessel Access;
  • the Wellington Convention for the Prohibition of Fishing with Long Driftnets in the South Pacific;
  • the Niue Treaty on Cooperation in Fisheries Surveillance and Law Enforcement in the South Pacific Region;
  • the Nauru Agreement Concerning Cooperation in the Management of Fisheries of Common Concern;
  • the Palau Arrangement for the Management of the Western Pacific Purse Seine Fishery; and
  • the FSM Arrangement for Regional Fisheries Access.

FSM is a signatory to the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, but the convention is not yet in force, nor have the details of management mechanisms been articulated.

In the 1980s and 1990s the objective for the management of FSM tuna fisheries was to maximize the government income from tuna fisheries in the EEZ. The strategy was to establish a dedicated tuna management agency and to conduct bilateral and multilateral negotiations. Because several stock assessment exercises had concluded that the resources were substantially under-exploited, resource constraints were not an issue and there were no attempts to limit harvesting.  The new tuna management regime, as articulated in the tuna management plan, with its multiple objectives is considerably more complex. 

In the FSM tuna management plan, the objectives are arranged in two different levels: (1) overall long-term objectives, and (2) specific objectives.  The three overall objectives for tuna fisheries management:

  • To ensure that the nation’s tuna resources are used in a sustainable way;
  • To obtain maximum, sustainable economic benefits from the nation’s tuna resources;
  • To promote economic security for the nation through the use of tuna resources. 

The specific objectives are:

  • Ensure that the tuna catch does not exceed sustainable levels
  • Obtain national revenue from foreign fishing access agreements;
  • Support development of FSM-owned and/or foreign FSM-based fishing enterprises;
  • Encourage investment in enterprises related to tuna fisheries;
  • Promote employment opportunities;
  • Enhance international relationships beneficial to FSM. 

In tuna management in FSM the distinction between management strategies and management measures is blurred. In fact, the management plan defines management strategies as “management measures, actions, or policies to be taken or adopted individually, or as a related group, that are intended to achieve a specific objective”. Accordingly, the following includes both strategies and measures.  

Resource sustainability:  Carefully consider the capacity of the resource prior to licensing vessels, Continue to use stock assessment as a primary indicator of the status of resources, Not rely on just one stock assessment, but obtain a second opinion and ensure that all advice is unbiased, Require fisheries data submission by those who utilize the resource for commercial purposes, Work to quantify the level and impact of non-reported catches, Cooperate with States in assessing the level of usage of the resource by non-commercial users, Have MFA staff analyze resource conservation issues, Utilize the services of regional organizations to provide analysis on complex resource conservation issues, Provide input into an effective surveillance program, Control (through the promulgation of regulations) activities undertaken as part of fishing, such as use of fish aggregating devices, transshipping, port calls, bunkering, aircraft support operations, and research and training vessel operations. 

Government revenue generation: License foreign vessels and require fees, Continue to promote where appropriate regional solidarity in dealing with DWFNs, Monitor markets and industry for economic information, Monitor state levies and taxes on a regular basis to determine the financial impact of all fees on the industry, Limit non-cash payment of access fees to particular cases where the net benefit is clear, Provide input into an effective surveillance program and encourage assets to be directed to maximum effectiveness, Enhance MFA negotiation skills, Undertake economic research that will help to define the optimum sustainable use of the resource, Provide realistic evaluations of proposals for development that include fishery access, Carry out analyses of relative benefits of local basing options versus access fee generation. 

The three development-oriented management goals: Support to local enterprises; Participate in the planning of programs relating to fisheries or fishing in the EEZ in which either a state government or the FSM national government has a proprietary interest, Collect, analyze, and disseminate economic information that will be of value to both government officials and entrepreneurs in better understanding the industry, its needs and profitability, Provide realistic evaluations of proposals for development that include fishery access, Promote development of an attractive investment climate by consultation and collaboration with state and national government agencies. 

Enhance international relationships:  Ensure sufficient coordination and dialog among relevant national government departments on topics relevant to fisheries, Ensure MFA is involved in policy-level decisions on issues concerning fishery access agreements and the development of relationships beneficial to FSM, Limit non-cash payment of access fees to particular cases where the net benefit is clear, Proactively seek cooperation with other FSM government departments in participating in regional and international meetings and consultations  dealing with or having an impact on tuna fishery resources, Develop contacts and dialog with individuals, companies, and governments interested in FSM fishery resources, Assist the national government (Foreign Affairs) and state governments in evaluating the fisheries-related content of proposed or ongoing relationships, Evaluate direct and indirect benefits to fisheries in FSM from access arrangements. 

As the basic management strategy is licensing, the MFA has detailed requirements that all licensed vessels:

  • are in good standing on the FFA Regional Register of Foreign Fishing Vessels;
  • allow and assist authorized observers to board the vessel for scientific, monitoring, compliance and other purposes;
  • display any permit or permit number as directed by MFA;
  • have appropriate position-fixing and identification equipment installed, and maintained in good working order;
  • are marked in accordance with MFA requirements while within the EEZ;
  • reimburse FSM for the cost of authorized observers;
  • appoint and maintain a legal agent within FSM;
  • use components of vessel monitoring systems as directed;
  • monitor international distress and safety frequencies;
  • transship at the time and port authorized for transshipment by MFA;
  • maintain daily catch reports in the approved form on board at all times;
  • report to MFA via telex upon entry to and exit from the EEZ, and once per week;
  • not discharge sewage, discard fish or bycatch, rubbish, trash, garbage, waste, fuel or fuel by-products within lagoons, atolls, the Territorial Sea, or within 12 miles of any island;
  • not fish within 12 miles of land unless authorized by the State which has jurisdiction;
  • not disrupt traditional local fisheries;
  • not transfer fishing permits. 

It is premature to judge the overall effectiveness of the strategies/measures stipulated in the FSM tuna management plan as the plan and associate measured have been in place for less than a year.  However, the basic measures of license requirements and fee extraction have been in place for over two decades and appear quite effective.  With respect to achieving the objective of generating Government revenue, between 1979 and late 2000 the FSM received over $170 million in fees for the rights to fish for tuna.  In fiscal year 1999 access fees represented an estimated 39% of non-tax revenue and 22% of total domestic revenue for the national government.  

Under Title 24 the enforcement of tuna management measures are vested in the Department of Justice. The law also provides that the Attorney General “may authorize other entities, officials or persons to perform enforcement functions”.  The MFA has not been authorized to perform enforcement functions nor by implication, surveillance, under Title 24. Rather than being an executing agency, the MFA has been identified as the “primary customer” of activities undertaken by the Department of Justice.  Surveillance can be seen to include three elements: air and sea fishery patrols, port inspections, and operation of a Maritime Surveillance Center (to eventually include VMS). At present, the MFA’s role in surveillance activities consists primarily of acting as the provider of information on licenses and fishing activity from their database. Observers employed by the Authority and serving on board fishing vessels are considered scientific data collectors, as are those involved in the port sampling program. Surveillance and enforcement activities are not considered a part of their work program. 

The major stakeholders in FSM tuna fisheries fall into two categories: (1) domestic parties, and (2) the foreign fleet operators.   The latter category is able to input into the decision making process during the access negotiation process and associated periodic consultations.  Domestic stakeholders are primarily participants in the FSM tuna industry, government departments, and the general public.   During the preparation of the FSM tuna management plan a National Steering Committee composed of these stakeholders was convened in March 2000 and shortly thereafter a series of consultations was held in each of the states with public and private sector interests. More than seventy-five individuals participated in the consultations. People with views to express often meet with officials of the MFA when issues of concern arise.

Information is acquired for management decisions in a number of ways. Licensed operators are required to record and submit daily records of fishing activity, including catch of all species and fishing effort. From time to time licensed operators are required to carry an observer who collects information on fishing activities for stock assessment, research and monitoring purposes. The MFA works in cooperation with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community to collect length-frequency, catch composition and species composition data, for the purposes of logbook data validation, stock assessment and research. This data is analyzed at MFA and also forwarded to the Oceanic Fisheries Programme of SPC where it is combined with similar information from neighboring countries to provide a regional perspective to FSM on tuna resources. 

Two major tuna tagging programs were carried out in FSM and surrounding countries by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in the late 1970s and late 1980s.  Over-all assessments of the tuna resources of FSM were done by SPC in 1984, by Dr. J. Sibert in 1990 under sponsorship of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, by SPC in 1991, and again by Dr. J. Sibert in 1995 under sponsorship of MFA.  SPC regularly produces regional tuna assessments of the area that encompasses FSM as well as other Pacific Island countries.   

Coastal fisheries   

The coastal fisheries resources of FSM include a large variety of species groups of which the finfish are the most important.   A Forum Fisheries Agency report on the important fisheries resources of FSM indicates that the important families of finfish are: Lutjanidae, Lethrinidae, Serranidae, Scaridae, Labridae, Siganidae, Acanthuridae, Carangidae, Muligidae, and Holocentridae.  Important non-finfish coastal resources include giant clams, trochus, octopus, mangrove crabs, lobster, beche de mer, turtles, and seaweeds.  

The coastal fisheries in the four states of FSM are very different with respect to fishery management arrangements. In some respects, the management regimes are so dissimilar that the situation resembles four different countries. The following paragraphs provide a thumbnail sketch of coastal resource management issues in each state: 

Chuuk. Chuuk State has historically had the largest state fishery agency in FSM. It is also the state with the most serious fishery management problems. High and rapidly growing population is creating greater pressure on fishery resources. There are large numbers of boats in the lagoon (reportedly over 2,000). Although many of these are used primarily for transport, many are also used for fishing, at least occasionally. Good air connections exist to Guam, which provides a market for a component of the catch. Dynamite fishing is prevalent, and dredging and sand-mining for fill and for building materials are largely uncontrolled. The State’s numerous municipalities (and in some cases individual reef owners) nominally have some authority to control access to their fishing areas but these seem to be upheld only in the outer island and more remote parts of Chuuk proper, and are largely ignored close to the population centers. There are no current data on fish catches or production but anecdotal information suggests that quantities of reef fish are being exported by air to Guam, and that strong declines in abundance of some resources are said to have occurred in some areas. 

Kosrae is the state with the least complex fishery management environment. A single small high island with a relatively small population (who are historically not such ardent fishermen as those of other FSM states), limited resources, and far from most commercial marketing opportunities, Kosrae’s fishery management problems are mainly related to the smallness of the resource. Harvests of certain key species such as trochus and crabs are, or need to be, controlled, but most threats to coastal resources come from land-based developments that cause erosion, increased runoff, pollution or sedimentation. However Kosrae probably has the best-developed coastal management system of any state, with environmental review procedures being progressively implemented for all coastal development projects. Basic statistics on catches are said to be collected on a regular basis, but these are not analyzed or published. 

Pohnpei is something of an intermediate case in terms of resources, degree of exploitation, and the extent of fishery management problems. Some production statistics are collected by the State fisheries agency, but these are not analyzed to show trends or even annual production data. The general perception in Pohnpei seems to be that resources are not yet in crisis but that the time is approaching when management action will be needed, at least on Pohnpei proper. Unfortunately there is also something of a fatalistic view that management will not be possible until a crisis situation develops. As in other states, enforcement of State fishery laws by State police or conservation officers is largely ineffective, while the absence of traditional reef/ lagoon tenure systems on Pohnpei proper may impede the development of community-based management arrangements. A major issue in Pohnpei is land-based development: the island has lost a large proportion of its virgin forest to cultivation and this is thought to have caused increased runoff, sedimentation, and chronic reef degradation. 

Yap is unique in the degree to which traditional marine tenure arrangement have been preserved, both in Yap proper and in the outer islands. Inshore fishery management in the state essentially needs to be community-based because the state constitution and laws recognize that communities and their leaders have authority over access to and use of coastal areas. Relative to other states, Yap has a large resource base and in most areas a small population, so management issues related to over-exploitation are generally not pronounced. Nevertheless some resources, especially of sessile types such as clams and beche-de-mer, or of other species close to the state center of Colonia, have been seriously over-exploited in the past, demonstrating that the traditional system of tenure does not guarantee effective stewardship. For several years the State Government has been progressively trying to introduce a coastal area management plan that will be implemented through the actions of both Government and traditional groups. As elsewhere, sand-mining and dredging were noted as serious environmental problems that were difficult to control. 

Because of the diversity of management conditions in each state, there is certainly no well-articulated “management system” for the coastal fisheries in FSM.  Generalizations are therefore difficult to make.    Probably the most comprehensive nation-wide initiative on the subject of inshore fisheries management was at the FSM Coastal Fisheries Consortium held in Pohnpei in December 2000.   The meeting attempted to compile some common themes in inshore fisheries management in FSM:

  • In most states there is more than one agency that has responsibilities relating to inshore fisheries management. This is not a problem when agency heads are willing to work together, but that is sometimes not the case.
  • there appears to be a general lack of awareness or understanding of the resource base that is available to support coastal fishery development. Few assessments have been carried out of inshore resources, and comparative information from elsewhere has not been extrapolated to the FSM situation. In general, there is an over-optimistic view of the degree to which coastal resources can support commercial development.
  • perhaps because of the failure to appreciate that coastal resources are limited, there is also a lack of awareness of the need for fisheries management, and the advantages that this may bring in terms of sustainable benefits. This extends to all levels, from resource users through to senior decision-makers, and may include the staff of fishery agencies. In those locations where traditional marine tenure does not exist, even if resource users are aware of the benefits of management, there may be no incentive for them to act in a conservation-minded manner.
  • there is also a growing belief among State fishery agencies that management must be effected through communities or municipalities. This is generally coupled with a lack of knowledge on how to go about the process of promoting or introducing community-based management.
  • in three of the four states, sand-mining and dredging are said to be serious environmental problems that are difficult to control (often because of vested interests) and which are having negative effects on coastal fishery resources.

Because of the diversity of management situations in the four states of FSM, it is difficult to generalize on objectives, strategies, and measures.  Nevertheless, some comments can be made. 

Most of the management objectives appear to be related to the protection of the resource base so as to assure continuity of food supplies, or viability of commercial exploitation.  In some locations, protecting species from extinction (e.g. turtles) is an objective. 

Strategies include reef tenure with selective exclusion of outsiders (Yap and some Chuuk locations) and regulation of coastal commercial fisheries by conventional centrally-administered regulations (Pohnpei and Kosrae).  On Kosrae and Pohnpei there has been a move, mostly promoted by environment agencies, to use of community-driven marine protected areas as a strategy for coastal fisheries management.  

The measures used to achieve the objectives fall into two categories: traditional and conventional.  The traditional measures are often exclusion of people external to the community, bans on particular types of fishing, and reef closures.  Most of the conventional measures could be categorized as “technical measures” and do not involved controls on input, output, or economic incentives. The exception to this is the quota placed on trochus harvesting. Many of the conventional measures involve types of species harvest bans.   Examples of this from Pohnpei are:

  • The taking by any means, of bumphead parrotfish for sale is prohibited.
  • The taking, by any means, or the possession of a mangrove crab which is carrying
    eggs is prohibited at all times.
  • The taking, by any means, of grouper for sale during the months of March and April is prohibited.
  • Hawksbill turtles and other sea turtles may not be taken or intentionally killed while on shore, nor shall their eggs be taken.   

Many of the measures now in place seem to be a historical artifact of the US colonial administration and reflect the interest of past administrators. An example of this is the fairly elaborate management measures for black coral.  

It is difficult to make generalization about the effectiveness of the various management measures.  One observation is that management arrangements seem to be most effective in those States or areas where a community-based or participatory approach is used. This observation encompasses both the more traditional systems in place in Yap and in the outer-island areas of other states, as well as the more modern participatory approach being used in Kosrae.  On the other hand, the conventional centrally-administered regulations appear to be totally unknown or ignored in the outer islands away from the administration centres.  

Enforcement of the traditional measures is by the traditional authorities at the location concerned.  Enforcement of conventional measures depends on the state concerned, but usually is the dual responsibility of the police and fisheries agency.  The FSM Coastal Fisheries Consortium held in Pohnpei in December 2000 made some comments on the enforcement of measures: ”There is a universal difficulty in enforcing State-level fishery regulations. Enforcement is impeded at every step: there are not enough enforcement officers or patrols, enforcement officers often turn a blind eye to offenders because of family or personal connections, and on the rare occasions that cases are brought to court, they are often dismissed or dealt with lightly, providing no disincentive to the offender.” 

The degree of direct stakeholder input into traditional management decisions can vary considerably between communities. In general, the communities are small enough so that people involved in fisheries are able to express their views to the leaders involved in decision-making.  Views on fisheries management, especially that involving neighboring communities and outside influences can be discussed at various levels of local government, and then conveyed to the state fisheries authorities and elected officials.  In the conventional centrally administered management, stakeholders can visit the state fishery agencies and attend public hearings which are required for major changes to fisheries legislation.  

Most information for traditional management is acquired by direct observation by local residents of the abundance of the species concerned.  For the centrally administered regimes, there have been fisheries statistical systems set up in all the states, but with the possible exception of Kosrae these systems are not functional at present. When they were, the information was not often analyzed or used.  As most management decisions are in response to a crisis, reports associated with the crisis are often the main source of information. Public hearings on important issues may reveal additional facts.  

Fisheries legislation  

The main legislation dealing with fisheries in FSM is Title 24 of the Code of the Federated States of Micronesia.  The preamble of this law states: “The purpose of this Title is to promote conservation, management, and development of the marine resources of the Federated States of Micronesia, generate the maximum benefit for the Nation from foreign fishing, and to promote the development of a domestic fishing industry”.  Title 24 has the following components:

  • General Provisions
  • Domestic Fishing
  • Management Authority (MFA)
  • Foreign Fishing
  • Violations and Penalties
  • State Entities for Development of Marine Resources
  • National Fisheries Corporation 

Title 24 indicates the management agency (MFA) shall have authority to adopt regulations for the conservation, management, and exploitation of fish in the exclusive economic zone. It also states that the regulations adopted have the full force of law. As of mid-2001 the MFA had the following regulations:

  • Domestic Fishing and Local Fishing Vessel Licensing Regulations
  • Reefers and Fuel Tankers Licensing Regulations
  • Interim Research and Training Vessel Licensing Regulations 

Title 18 of the Code establishes a territorial sea twelve nautical miles in breadth from an island baseline.   Chapter 23 of the Code deals with marine species preservation. It prohibits the catching of marine life through the use of explosives, poisons, chemicals or other substances, or the use of those substances with the intent to kill marine life. There are also limitations, in the form of seasonal closures and size restrictions, on the taking of turtles, sponges, black-lip mother-of-pearl oyster shell and trochus. The taking of marine mammals for commercial purposes or by commercial fishing parties is prohibited. 

An important facet of the legislation in FSM with respect to fisheries is the partitioning of jurisdiction between the national government and state governments. Article IX of the Constitution gives the National Government power -“ regulate the ownership, exploration, and exploitation of natural resources within the marine space of the Federated States of Micronesia beyond 12 miles from island baselines." Fisheries within the territorial sea and the internal waters of FSM are subject to the legislative control of the adjacent FSM State. 

Fisheries legislation in all four states is in the process of being modified. In 1996 draft legislation was prepared for each State in consultation with State officials. The draft legislation was intended, in each case, to enable community or traditional participation in fisheries management, and to harmonize key provisions among states and with the national government for effective management and enforcement purposes. Since that time, there have been changes in personnel, political administrations and priorities in the states. There has been uneven progress in revising the fisheries laws – by mid-2001 only Kosrae had enacted the new fisheries legislation.  


There are no recent published estimates of the value of investments or subsidies in the FSM fisheries sector.  A 1994 report by the Forum Fisheries Agency on tuna industry development in FSM stated: “The government of FSM have traditionally exercised a strong preference for public sector activity over alternative domestic private enterprise….Various estimates place the total industry investments by the governments of FSM at over US$100 million.”  In 2000 an Asian Development Bank project estimated FSM government fisheries enterprises had a total capitalization of just over $23 million.  

Apart from infrastructure (substantial in all states), the largest government investments in fisheries are the two purse seiners owned by Pohnpei State, the one purse seiner owned by Chuuk State, and the one purse seiner owned by Yap State, the fish processing plant owned by Pohnpei State,  the cold storage facility owned by Kosrae State, and the dockside facilities owned by Chuuk and Yap.  

The largest private sector investments are the 15 or so domestic longline vessels (seven of which are owned by a company partly owned by the national government), the 25 of so longline vessels from China temporarily based in Pohnpei.   For the small-scale fisheries, the major investments are in skiffs, outboard engines, and fishing gear.  Outrigger canoes are commonly used for fishing in many of the outer islands. 

Fisheries-related subsidies fall into two categories:

  • Allocation by the national and state governments to maintain the operations of unprofitable government-owned fishing and fish processing ventures. 
  • Allocations by the FSM national government and the Government of Japan to help support the aircraft which freights fish from FSM to Guam for onward shipment to Japan.

The amounts of these subsidies are not readily available in documents in the public domain. 


Projections for the supply and demand for fish are unavailable for FSM. Nevertheless, some crude estimates can be made by combining present fish consumption information with forecasts for population increases.  

The population of FSM in 1998 was 114,100.  Depending on migration and changes in fertility, the 2025 population is likely to be between 184,800 and 236,900.  Taking the midpoint, this would be 1.85 times the 1998 population.  

There have been several attempts to calculate fish consumption in FSM in recent years. These estimates have ranged from 72 to 119 kg per person per year.  

If it is assumed that annual per capita consumption is 96 kg, then FSM consumed about 10,900 mt of fish in 1998.  If the population expands 1.85 times between 1999 and 2025 as indicated above, and per capita fish consumption remains the same as in 1998, about 20,250 mt of fish will be required in 2025.   


The Micronesian Fisheries Authority (MFA) was created to monitor and control tuna fisheries in the waters of FSM’s EEZ. The legal basis for this mandate is contained in Title 24 of the FSM Code. MFA is composed of five members. Members serve a two-year term, elect a Chairman, and adopt their own rules of procedure. The day-to-day activities of the office are carried out by an Executive Director and nine professional and support staff. The law grants MFA specific powers to:

  • adopt regulations for the conservation, management, and exploitation of fish in the EEZ;

  • conclude fishing agreements with foreign and domestic-based entities;

  • establish fees and other forms of compensation for the right to exploit marine resources within the EEZ;

  • enter into agreements or arrangements with other governments that give effect to the terms of regional, bilateral, or multilateral fisheries treaties, agreements or arrangements;

  • issue fishing permits to foreign, domestic-based, and domestic entities;

  • determine the total allowable level of fishing within the EEZ;

  • provide technical assistance in the delimitation of the EEZ;

  • issue permits for fishing in the Territorial Sea or internal waters of a State where so authorized by that State; and

  • participate in the planning and execution of programs relating to fisheries, or fishing in the EEZ in which there is investment or other proprietary interest by a state government, or any agency or subdivision of the national government.

The Fisheries Section of the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) is responsible for assisting the states in fisheries development and management. Based on 1999 budget documentation, the functions of the Section are:

  • provision of technical, advisory and support services on marine and fisheries to the states;

  • development and management of marine resources, programs and services;

  • implementation and monitoring of FSM National Fisheries Policy and Act;

  • marine research, appropriate marine technology transfer, and institutionalised marine resources information management system and database;

  • facilitation of institutional strengthening and capacity building training and skills upgrading services;

  • coordination, management, monitoring and support of nationally and externally-funded marine programs (aquaculture, marine tourism, coastal resources and non-living resources management, National Aquaculture Centre (NAC), and ADB Fisheries Project) and coastal resources management;

  • ensuring FSM compliance with regional and international commitments and obligations 

The National Fisheries Corporation is charged with tuna-related fisheries development, including the coordination of air freighting services. According to Title 24, The Corporation's authority includes the ability to:

  • enter into joint venture, partnership, and other agreements related to the fishing and fisheries industry with other persons including, but not limited to, foreign persons and governments;

  • otherwise engage or participate as owner, partner, shareholder, or other interest holder in commercial ventures related to the fishing and fisheries industry;

  • manage or operate commercial projects, enterprises, and ventures related to the fishing and fisheries industry;
  • secure both from within and from without the Federated States of Micronesia financial resources to achieve the purpose of this Chapter and the Corporation's charter;

  • provide technical assistance and services for project identification, project formulation, and pre-investment studies relating to the fishing and fisheries industry;
  • foster economic activities and to cooperate with other institutions within and without the Federated States of Micronesia in supporting activities for fishing and fisheries development;

  • promote the training of Micronesian citizens in matter related to the fishing and fisheries industry; and

  • invest in the expansion and improvement of the fishing and fisheries industry in the Federated States of Micronesia.

The organizational relationships of these national FSM fisheries agencies are: 

(please click to enlarge image)

Various fisheries institutions are located in the four states. These include:

Chuuk State

·         Division of Marine Resources

·         Environmental Protection Authority

Kosrae State

·         Division of Fisheries Development

·         Division of Fisheries Management

·         Kosrae Island Resource Management Program

Pohnpei State

·         Office of Marine Resource Conservation and Management

·         Department of Resource Management and Development

·         Economic Development Authority

·         Economic Planning Commission, Office of the Governor

·         Conservation Society of Pohnpei (NGO)

Yap State

·         Yap Fishing Authority

·         Division of Marine Resource Development

·         Yap Institute of Natural Science (NGO) 

National organisations are based in Pohnpei except for the National Aquaculture Development Centre, which is based in Kosrae. The other organisations are based in their respective state capitals - Kolonia (Pohnpei), Weno (Chuuk), Kolonia (Yap) and Lelu (Kosrae).



FCM has a federal government as well as four state governments which have a high degree of autonomy.