Agreement on the Micronesian Association for Sustainable Aquaculture

The States Parties to this Agreement,

Aware of the significant potential for aquaculture development in the Micronesian sub-region of the Pacific, and the importance of such development for rural employment and food security,

Desiring, in light of the social and economic development priorities of the region to increase local production and consumption of aquaculture products and to expand the options for productive employment and income generation by communities, private investors and governments,

Desiring to effectively operationalize an inter-governmental organization called the Micronesian Association for Sustainable Aquaculture, which seeks to promote and extend cooperation for sustainable aquaculture development, including information exchange and sharing of experiences within the Micronesian sub-region as a step towards cooperation throughout the Pacific region,

Recalling the relevant provisions of international agreements and commitments relating to sustainable aquaculture development,

Aspiring to implement relevant international agreements and commitments whether binding or non-binding including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries adopted in 1995 by the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,

Concerned with assuring that all aspects of bio-security at the national and regional levels are addressed and to that end, implementing relevant international guidelines, codes and standards including the Aquatic Animal Health Code of the World Organization for Animal Health,

Recognizing the Micronesia Challenge, signed by the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in March 2006, through which these signatories have committed to effectively conserve at least 30% of the near-shore marine resources and 20% of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020,

Acknowledging that sustainable aquaculture requires the application of the ecosystem approach to aquaculture,

Committed to contributing to the effective management of aquatic natural and biological resources and the resilience of the fragile island ecosystems,

Acknowledging the Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership, and  in particular, the call for the Pacific leaders to commit to accelerating and increasing efforts to prepare for and adapt to the intensifying impacts of climate change, to further develop and implement policies, strategies and legislative frameworks, to climate-proof islands’ essential physical infrastructure, to adapt key economic sectors to ensure climate-resilient sustainable development for present and future generations and to implement the Declaration including through sustainable aquaculture development,

Cognizant of the need to strengthen sub-regional, national and community capacities for sector governance, research, technology development, dissemination and utilization of environmentally and socially responsible best management, production, processing and marketing practices and the need for financial and other relevant resources to support such efforts,

Committed to promoting, through the effective sharing and application of science-based and indigenous knowledge and technology, a strong and environmentally responsible aquaculture production and trade as a sustainable livelihood alternative that helps to improve the nutrition and health of the citizens of Micronesia, conserves natural resources, preserves Micronesian culture and produces quality products that are distinctly Micronesian,

have agreed as follows:

Article 1
Definitions

For the purposes of this Agreement:

“Aquaculture” means the cultivation, propagation or farming of aquatic organisms, including fish, molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants whether from eggs, spawn, spat, seed or other means or by rearing aquatic organisms taken from the wild or imported, or by other similar process;

“Association” means the “Micronesian Association for Sustainable Aquaculture” established under Article 2;

“Culture based fisheries” means the cultivation of aquatic species which involves controlling a part of the life history of such species and transplanting or releasing them for purposes of enhancing stocks in the natural environment;

“Host State” means the State in which the seat of the Association is located in accordance with Article 6;

“Member” means the Original Members that signed, ratified or acceded to the agreement or a State or participating territories referred to in Article 12 paragraph 1 which has deposited an instrument of ratification, accession or acceptance in accordance with Article 17;

“Micronesian sub-region” is the region comprising the areas under the national jurisdiction of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Nauru, the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of Palau and the areas under the jurisdiction of the Governments of Guam and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands;

“Original Members” means the States of the Micronesian sub-Region, which initiated the development and adoption of this Agreement namely the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Nauru and the Republic of Palau;

“Participating territories” means those territories referred to in Article 12 paragraph 1; and,

“Technical Advisory Committee” means the advisory body of the Association established in accordance with Article 9.

Article 2
Establishment

  1. The Association may take any action as necessary and in accordance with this Agreement to accomplish its purposes, including in particular:
  2. The Association shall be an intergovernmental organization and shall have such personality and capacities as may be necessary for the exercise of its functions and the achievement of its objectives.
  3. There is established the “Micronesian Association for Sustainable Aquaculture” (the Association) whose objectives and functions are set out in this Agreement.
    1. entering into contracts and other types of agreements;
    2. instituting or defending itself in legal proceedings;
    3. acquiring and disposing of real and personal property;
    4. employing permanent, fixed term or temporary staff including internal or external staff; and
    5. investing and managing the monies and properties of the Association.

Article 3
Objectives

  1. The objectives of the Association are to:
    1. improve nutrition and health, increase food production and food security and support rural development and wealth generation through promoting the sustainable development and management of aquaculture and culture-based fisheries in the Micronesian sub-region;
    2. strengthen the collective capacities of the Micronesian sub-region in an equitable  manner, including securing necessary financial and other resources,  and promoting sustainable development of aquaculture and culture-based fisheries sectors in the Micronesian sub-region; and
    3. ensure the conservation and sustainable utilization of resources and environment in aquaculture and culture-based fisheries, including by striving to minimize harmful impacts and maintaining a healthy environment and ecosystems through the use of the ecosystem approach to aquaculture and other ecosystem-based management approaches and tools in aquaculture and culture-based fisheries activities.

Article 4

Scope and Application

The Association shall carry out the functions set forth in Article 5 within the territories and the areas under the jurisdiction of the Members of the Association.

Article 5
Functions of the Association

In order to achieve the objectives set out in Article 3 of this Agreement, the Association shall:

  1. provide Members with a forum to discuss issues pertaining to aquaculture and culture-based fisheries;
  2. promote, initiate, coordinate and perform research, as appropriate, on all aspects of aquaculture and culture-based fisheries in the Micronesian sub-region including between participating agencies and resource persons;
  3. provide technical advisory services to address aquaculture issues at regional and sub-regional levels;
  4. develop capacity of national, sub-regional and, as appropriate, regional aquaculture institutions and stakeholders, including through networking;
  5. promote, facilitate and undertake, as appropriate, all aspects of aquaculture and culture-based fisheries including the training of farmers and workers and the facilitation of exchange visits;
  6. develop, facilitate and manage information systems to support the needs for aquaculture and culture-based fisheries development of Members, including information and knowledge exchange at different levels along the value chain;
  7. designate or establish, as appropriate, national or sub-regional aquaculture centers and coordinate work and facilitate the collection, management and sharing or exchange of scientific and other information and knowledge including indigenous knowledge;
  8. encourage and facilitate the transfer to Members of the appropriate aquaculture knowledge, technologies and techniques developed at national and sub-regional aquaculture centers;
  9. assist Members in formulating appropriate national programs or strategies for the development and promotion of sustainable aquaculture and culture-based fisheries;
  10. develop, as appropriate, a sub-regional  program or strategy for the development and promotion of sustainable aquaculture and culture-based fisheries;
  11. protect the Association’s intellectual property and assist Members, as appropriate, in protecting their intellectual property and rights relating to aquaculture and culture based fisheries;
  12. promote cooperation on all aspects of aquaculture and culture-based fisheries among Members, between the Association and the relevant organizations and other entities, as appropriate, at the international, regional and sub-regional levels;
  13. adopt conservation and management measures for the sustainable use of aquaculture and culture-based fisheries resources in the Micronesian sub-region;
  14. keep under review economic, social and environmental aspects of aquaculture and culture-based fisheries;
  15. consider and approve the program of work and budget of the Association;
  16. initiate periodic reviews of the Association, its objectives, mandate and work in order  to improve the governance and performance of the Association, taking into account the need to maintain its relevance, promote accountability, transparency and risk management and ensure efficiency of its operations including its cost effectiveness;
  17. adopt the rules of procedure, financial regulations and other administrative regulations of the Association as necessary to carry out the functions of the Association; and
  18. carry out such other activities as may be necessary to fulfill the objectives set out in Article 3.

Article 6
Seat

The seat of the Association shall be in Koror in the Republic of Palau, or such other place as may be determined by the Association. The Association shall enter into a headquarters agreement with the Government of the Host State.

Article 7
Meetings of the Association

  1. The meetings of the Association shall be conducted in accordance with this Agreement and the Rules of Procedure of the Association.
  2. The Association shall hold an annual meeting and may hold such other meetings as may be necessary to carry out its functions and to meet its objectives under this Agreement.
  3. The Association shall elect a Member as its Chairperson and another Member as Vice-Chairperson, who shall hold office for one year. These offices shall be rotated amongst the Members in succeeding years.
  4. Upon recommendation from the Members, the Chairperson shall elect other officers as necessary for the meetings of the Association.
  5. Each Member shall have one vote. Unless otherwise provided in this Agreement or the Rules of Procedure, decisions of the Association shall be taken by a majority of the votes cast. A majority of the Members shall constitute a quorum.
  6. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations may be invited to participate in the meetings of the Association in an advisory capacity and in such other capacity as may be determined by the Association.
  7. Donor governments or organizations may participate at meetings of the Association as observers or in such capacity as may be determined by the Association.
  8. In the annual meetings, the Association shall:
    1. adopt or amend its Rules of Procedure, if necessary;
    2. approve by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the Members the program of work and budget of the Association, giving due consideration to the conclusions and recommendations of the Technical Advisory Committee;
    3. assess, by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the Members, the contribution of Members as provided in Article 14;
    4. establish special funds to receive additional resources for the development of programs and projects, as appropriate;
    5. review and develop policies, standards and guidelines for the management and operation of the Association;
    6. evaluate the progress of work and activities of the Association including the auditing of accounts, in accordance with the policies and procedures established for this purpose by the Association and to give guidance to the Secretariat and the Coordinator on the implementation of its decisions;
    7. approve formal arrangements with governments as well as other associations or institutions, including any headquarters agreement concluded between the Association and the Government of the Host State in accordance with Article 6;
    8. formulate,  adopt or amend financial and administrative regulations, if necessary;
    9. adopt staff regulations which determine the general terms and conditions of employment of the staff of the Association;
    10. approve agreements and other arrangements for cooperation concluded pursuant to Article 16; and
    11. perform all other functions that have been entrusted to it by this Agreement or that are ancillary to the accomplishment of the approved activities of the Association.

Article 8
The Secretariat

  1. There shall be a Secretariat of the Association comprising the Coordinator and other staff of the Association.
  2. The Coordinator of the Association shall be the executive head of the Secretariat and the legal representative of the Association. The Coordinator shall be appointed by the Association for a term of four years and may be re-appointed for a second term of four years.
  3. The Coordinator shall receive instructions from and report to the Association.
  4. The Coordinator shall:
    1. prepare and organize the annual meeting and special meetings of the Association and meetings of the Technical Advisory Committee, and shall provide the Secretariat for such meetings;
    2. facilitate cooperation amongst the Members and between the Association and its partners;
    3. organize conferences, regional training programs and other meetings in accordance with the approved program of work and budget of the Association;
    4. initiate proposals for joint action programs with regional and other international bodies;
    5. be responsible for the management of the Association and the Secretariat;
    6. commission, at the direction of the Association, periodic reviews of the Association in accordance with Article 5;
    7. take action on matters consistent with the objectives of the Association and in the implementation of the decisions of the Association; and
    8. perform any other functions as may be decided by the Association.
  5. The Coordinator shall submit to the Association at each annual meeting:
    1. a report on the work of the Association, which highlights, inter alia, the progress, results and key performance indicators and other achievements of the Association;
    2. a report on the audited accounts of the Association;
    3. a draft program of work and budget for the following year;
    4. a report on specific tasks assigned to the Coordinator to undertake during the previous year; and
    5. such other matters as set out in this Agreement, the Rules of Procedure and regulations of the Association or as decided by the Association.
  6. The Coordinator shall carry out the appointment and administration of the other staff of the Association in accordance with the policy, general standards and guidelines established by the Association or provided under the Staff Regulations.

Article 9
Technical Advisory Committee

  1. The Association may establish a Technical Advisory Committee to provide advice and recommendations to the Association on matters within its area of competence, including in support of the functions of the Association as set out in Article 5.
  2. Each Member shall be entitled to appoint one representative to the Technical Advisory Committee who may be accompanied by other experts or advisers. Such representatives shall have appropriate qualifications or relevant experience in the area of competence of the Technical Advisory Committee.
  3. The Technical Advisory Committee shall be convened at least once a year or as often as is considered necessary by the members of the Technical Advisory Committee and upon the request of the Association.
  4. The Technical Advisory Committee may recommend to the Association the establishment of sub-committees to deal with specific issues related to the area of competence of the Technical Advisory Committee. These sub-committees shall be open to Members.
  5. In the exercise of their functions, the Technical Advisory Committee and sub-committees may, where appropriate, consult any other aquaculture, fisheries management, technical or scientific organization with competence in the relevant subject matter and may seek expert advice as required on an ad hoc basis.

Article 10
Membership

  1. The Members of the Association shall be:
    1. Original Members which have signed, ratified or acceded to the agreement and other States that have ratified or acceded to this Agreement in accordance with Article 17; and,
    2. territories referred to in Article 12 paragraph 1 and fishing entities as appropriate which have accepted this Agreement in accordance with Article 17.
  2. The States referred to in Article 17 paragraph 1  shall be the Original Members of the Association.

Article 11
Rights and obligations of Members

  1. Members shall, in accordance with this Agreement, be entitled to:
    1. participate in the meetings of the Association, the Technical Advisory Committee and sub-committees and such other meetings as may be convened in accordance with this Agreement or the Rules of Procedure;
    2. receive funding support from the Association for the participation of one designated representative to the annual meeting of the Association and one designated representative to one meeting of the Technical Advisory Committee per year;
    3. obtain on request, free of charge within reasonable limits, information available within the Association, on matters of their concern, including guidelines for obtaining technical assistance, and collaboration in any undertaking as may be facilitated in accordance with this Agreement;
    4. receive technical assistance including training and capacity development subject to the capacity of the Association to deliver such assistance or the availability of resources;
    5. receive publications and other information that may be distributed by the Association free of charge; and
    6. receive such other rights or enjoy such other privileges as may be provided to Members under this Agreement or as may be accorded by decision of the Association.
  2. The Members shall:
    1. settle their financial obligations towards the Association;
    2. collaborate in determining the technical activities of the Association;
    3. promptly provide information reasonably requested by the Association;
    4. undertake assignments that may be mutually agreed between individual Members or groups of Members and the Association;
    5. accord to the Association and its Members, in so far as it may be possible under the constitutional or legal procedures of the respective Members or by agreement, the facilities, privileges and immunities and other courtesies that are deemed essential for the successful functioning of the Association;
    6. collaborate in general in the fulfillment of the objectives and functions of the Association; and
    7. meet other obligations as may be imposed on Members in accordance with this Agreement.

Article 12
Participation by territories

  1. The Association, the Technical Advisory Committee and sub-committees shall be open to participation to the territories of Guam and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, following the appropriate agreement of the Original Members.
  2. If the territories of Guam and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands do not opt to become Members in accordance with Article 17, they may nevertheless participate in the meetings and  work of the Association, the Technical Advisory Committee and sub-committees but shall not have the right to vote or participate in any decision making.

Article 13
Observers

Any non-member government, organization, association, agreement, arrangement, institution or entity able to make a significant contribution to the activities of the Association may, in accordance with the Rules of Procedure adopted in accordance with Article 7, be invited to participate at meetings of the Association and such other meeting of the Association as observers.

Article 14
Finances

  1. The funds of the Association shall include:
    1. the contributions of the Members to the budget of the Association;
    2. the revenue obtained from the provision of services against payment;
    3. donations, provided that acceptance of such donations is compatible with the objectives of the Association; and
    4. such other resources as are approved by the Association and compatible with the objectives of the Association.
  2. A Member shall undertake to pay its assessed individual annual contributions to the regular budget of the Association.
  3. A Member whose arrears in the payment of its assessed individual annual contributions to the regular budget of the Association equals or exceeds the amount of the contributions due from it for the preceding calendar year:
    1. may travel and participate at its own costs in the meetings of the Association but shall not take part in decision-making in such meetings; and
    2. may have its other rights under Article 11 paragraphs 1(c) to (f) suspended for the duration that its arrears remain unpaid.
  4. Notwithstanding paragraph 3, the Members who have paid their assessed individual annual contributions, may permit a Member in arrears to take part in decision-making and not have its rights suspended, if they are satisfied that the Member’s failure to pay was due to conditions beyond the control of the Member.

Article 15
Privileges and immunities

  1. The Government of the Host State or Member and the Government of other Members hosting the Association’s branch offices if any, through a headquarters agreement or other arrangements, shall provide the Association with such privileges, immunities and facilities applicable to the seat of the Association and Association’s branch offices, its property, goods and its staff in the performance of their duties, within the territory of such Members.
  2. The privileges and immunities which the Association and its officers shall enjoy in the territory of any other Member shall be determined, as appropriate, by agreement or other arrangement between the Association and the Member concerned.

Article 16
Cooperation with other organizations, associations, entities and arrangements

  1. The Association shall cooperate, as appropriate, with non-member governments and any relevant organization, association, agreement, arrangement, institution or entity including:
    1. the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and with other specialized agencies and bodies of the United Nations;
    2. the Secretariat of the Pacific Community;
    3. the Micronesian Trade Committee;
    4. the Micronesia Conservation Trust;
    5. the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council;
    6. the Office of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement; and
    7. the Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency
      on matters of mutual interest and in pursuance of its objectives and in carrying out its functions.
  2. The Association may enter into agreements or make suitable arrangements for consultation, cooperation and collaboration with other relevant inter-governmental or other international, regional or sub-regional organizations, associations, arrangements or entities particularly those that have related objectives and which can contribute to the attainment of the objective of the Association.
  3. Any non-member government, organization, association, agreement, arrangement, institution or entity with which the Association has entered into an agreement or arrangement under this Article may designate representatives to attend meetings of the Association as observers in accordance with Article 13 and the Rules of Procedure of the Association.

Article 17
Signature, ratification, accession, acceptance and entry into force

  1. This Agreement shall be open for signature by the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Nauru and the Republic of Palau and shall remain open for signature for twelve months from the twenty-fifth  day of November 2015.
  2. This Agreement is subject to ratification or accession by States other than the States referred to in paragraph 1 which have signed the Agreement, and to acceptance by the participating territories referred to in Article 12 paragraph 1. Instruments of ratification, accession or acceptance shall be deposited with the Government of the Republic of Palau who shall be the Depository of this Agreement.
  3. The Agreement shall enter into force upon signature by at least three of the States referred to in paragraph 1.
  4. This Agreement after its entry into force, shall be open for signature or ratification by other States referred to in paragraph 1 and upon a written request and subject to an affirmative decision of the Original Members of the Association, be open for accession, acceptance or approval, by other States, the Governments of participating territories referred to under Article 12 paragraph 1 or fishing entities.
  5. The Coordinator shall bring to the immediate attention of the Chairperson of the Association the request to accede or accept this Agreement by a State,  participating territory referred to under Article 12 paragraph 1 or fishing entity.  The Chairperson shall invite the Original Members to meet and make a decision on the request. The decision by the Original Members on a request of a State, participating territory referred to under Article 12 paragraph 1 or a fishing entity to accede to or accept this Agreement shall be made by consensus.

Article 18
Amendment

  1. Any Member of the Association may propose amendments to this Agreement and shall do so by written communication addressed to the Chairperson of the Association at least 60 days before the annual meeting of the Association at which the proposed amendment is to be considered. The Chairperson shall promptly circulate such communication to all Members of the Association.
  2. Notwithstanding paragraph 1, a majority of the Members of the Association may request that a special meeting of the Association be convened to consider the proposed Amendments to this Agreement. Such special meeting shall be convened on no less than 60 days notice. Amendments to this Agreement shall be adopted by consensus of the Members other than Members that are territories referred to in Article 12 paragraph 1 and fishing entities. The Chairperson shall promptly transmit the text of the adopted amendment to all the Members of the Association. 
  3. An amendment to this Agreement shall enter into force on the thirtieth day following the signature or deposit of instruments of ratification, accession or acceptance by a majority of the Members with respect to such amendment. Thereafter, for each Member ratifying, acceding to, or accepting such amendment to this Agreement, the amendment shall enter into force on the thirtieth day following the deposit of the Member’s instrument of ratification, accession, or acceptance.

Article 19
Withdrawal

  1. A Member may withdraw from this Agreement at any time after the expiration of two years from the date upon which the Agreement entered into force by giving written notice of such withdrawal to the Chairperson of the Association and by submitting such withdrawal in writing to the Depository. The Depository shall immediately inform all the Members of such withdrawal.
  2. The withdrawal shall take effect one year after the date of receipt of the submission of the written withdrawal by the Depository, unless the written withdrawal specifies a later date. Withdrawal from this Agreement by a Member shall not affect the financial obligations of such Member incurred prior to its withdrawal becoming effective.
  3. Any Member that has withdrawn from this Agreement shall be deemed to have simultaneously withdrawn from the Association.

Article 20
Dissolution

  1. The Association shall cease to exist at any time decided by the Association by a two-thirds majority of the Members other than Members which are territories referred to in Article 12 paragraph 1 and fishing entities. The disposal of any real property belonging to the Association shall be subject to prior approval of the Association. Any asset remaining after the real property has been disposed of, after the balance of any donated funds that have not been used has been returned to the respective donors, and after all obligations have been met, shall be distributed among the Members at the time of dissolution. The distribution must be proportional to the contributions made in accordance with Article 14 for the year preceding the year of the dissolution.
  2. This Agreement shall be automatically terminated when, as a result of withdrawals, the number of Members drops below three unless the remaining Members decide otherwise.

Article 21
Settlement of disputes

  1. Any dispute concerning the interpretation or application of this Agreement that cannot be settled by negotiation, conciliation or similar means may be referred by a party to the dispute to the Association for its recommendation.
  2. Any dispute regarding the interpretation or application of this Agreement, if not settled by the Association, shall be referred to a committee composed of one Member appointed by each of the parties to the dispute, and an independent chairperson appointed by the members of the committee. The decision of the committee shall be final and binding.
  3. The cost of the settlement of disputes shall be shared equally by the parties to the dispute.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the undersigned, being duly authorized thereto, have signed this Agreement.

DONE at Koror this twenty-fifth day of November, two thousand and fifteen.

  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • Republic of the Marshall Islands
  • Republic of Nauru
  • Republic of Palau