This editorial offers some very obvious but crucial points that Guam in particular, but all of Micronesia needs to address. If the region is going to be "built up" or "developed" what course should this change or process take? How much should it be managed, checked or planned for, or how much should it simply be let go and unattended to?
The keyword that we find in this article is "discipline," which should always be accompanied by "planning." Just because someone wants to dump 100 million dollars into the island, to build some new gigantic hotel or several hundred half million dollar condos, does that mean that we should just allow it, just go along with it? The mentality in Guam for so long has been, whatever is brought from outside, especially from richer larger countries, is better and fantastic, and we need as much of it as possible. Little thought is put into how much damage is done, in economic, social and environmental terms. Simply because we can do something, doesn't mean that we should. At each point over the past four decades when the island is suddenly announced to the region and the world to be "for sale!" Does that mean that we should just sell it off?
I'm back on island now after being away for several months, and we can see the marks of "progress" everywhere. Huge sometimes grotesque structures being planned or erected. I passed by a site in Oka, where dozens of condos priced at 500,000 each are being planned. Who are these condos for? Why is all this development being allowed which will clearly benefit the richest on the island, or the off island investors?
In the editorial below from The Marianas Variety, the question arises in terms of the ocean, its fish and its resources. Just because the ocean can be sold off, and fished, does that mean its wise to just let it be fished into tinaya'? No, obviously not, but that is why Governments exist, because they are supposed to represent a force in protecting the majority of a population or its interests, the sustainability of its resources. But as we sadly see so often in the Pacific, Governments as well as regular everyday people, are all so enamored or blinded by the illusion that everything which is brought here from America, or any outside investment here is fantastic for the island, no questions asked. If we continue down this path, we will as the article suggests, be led into death and true unsustainability. If we sell off the entire island, let the sea be fished into emptiness, and led concrete and looming structure cover every inch of Guam, then what was the point? What was the point of selling things, developing things or "improving" things, if it leads nowhere?
Our ocean, our life
FISHERIES in the central and western Pacific region are not in good shape. The commercially important fish populations may not yet be “fully fished” at this point but they are in danger of heading toward that direction. Even the fishing industry cannot much longer ignore the obvious.
The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission’s Scientific Committee reported that the yellowfin stock is “fully exploited” with “a minimum 47 percent probability” that overfishing is occurring within the regulated zone. The stock of bigeye tuna, according to the committee, is “not in an overfished state” but overfishing of this specie has been observed.
Tuna fishing is a major industry for islands that export to Japan, which consumes a quarter of the world’s tuna supply.
The FSM’s own tuna stock is assessed at 130,000 tons valued at $3 billion. That’s the amount that the Micronesia region would lose if overfishing is not kept in check and would result in the depletion of the tuna stock.
What we need is a system of regional — or global — discipline.
With that in mind, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, an international commission representing 33 fishing nations and islands, is now in session to revisit its agreement to reduce the catch of yellowfin and bigeye tuna.
The efforts to reduce tuna catches and enforce fishing regulations, however, are hampered by lack of resources, such as fleets with adequate monitoring systems to detect illegal fishers. This is definitely one area that the regional commission must immediately address.
Another factor that pointlessly contributes to the destruction of marine ecology is “bycatching.” This is a process by which fish are inadvertently caught and thrown back, usually dead, because they are not the target fish to be sold in the market.
According to fishery experts, about 20 million tons of fish are wasted in this way.
The commission’s member-nations and islands must therefore see to it that only acceptable fishing methods and gadgets are allowed in their areas of responsibility. One of the most destructive fishing methods is the use of large drift nets, which was banned by the United Nations in 1991.
Enforcing tough restrictions on fishing is a logical step, so is imposing a quota on tuna catch. Along with these measures, developing restoration plans would not be a bad idea even though the region may not have yet reached the “overfished state.”
Why wait ‘till that happens?