Legal Division

Treaties, laws and domestic regulations and enforcement

MIMRA has expanded domestic enforcement of fisheries laws and regulations, while concluding work on two significant international efforts for the Marshall Islands: legal documents necessary for domestic approval of the Niue Treaty on Cooperation in Fisheries Surveillance and Law Enforcement in the South Pacific Region and documentation of the Marshall Islands' marine boundaries.

Minister John Silk

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Regional/International Issues

MIMRA redefines Marshalls EEZ and submits to the UN

A three-year project in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Attorney General's office to define the marine boundaries of the Marshall Islands' 200-mile exclusive economic zone was successfully completed. This was subsequently endorsed by Nitijela adoption of a new law, the Marshall Islands Maritime Zone Declaration Act 2016. Following passage of the legislation, the Minister of Foreign Affairs John Silk, with support staff from MIMRA and Foreign Affairs, deposited the maritime boundary legislation with the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

RMI ratifies Niue Treaty, submits to FFA

MIMRA collaborated with the Attorney General's Office to draft a Cabinet Paper for the domestic ratification of the Niue Treaty. Action for domestic approval of the Niue Treaty followed from the signing of the treaty followed from the signing of the treaty by the Marshall Islands. The Cabinet Minute approved the ratification of the Niue Treaty, and directed the Minister of Foreign Affairs to deposit the instrument of accession/ratification with the Director General of the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) in the Solomon islands. In tandem with the Cabinet Minute, a resolution drafted and was scheduled for introduction to Nitijela (Parliament) in the second half of 2016. This will conclude the national approval process for the treaty, which will enhance fisheries surveillance and law enforcement for the Marshall Islands.

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Changes in fishery regulations

Two new MIMRA domestic fishery regulations were completed and put into effect. These are:

  • Sea Cucumber Regulations: Indecember 2015, MIMRA submitted the Sea Cucumber Regulation along with supporting documents to the Marshall Islands High Court for public access online. The regulations were approved by Cabinet. The new regulations provide for significant penalties for anyone exporting sea cucumber without a license. A violation of the licensing provisions can result in a fine of up to $100,000 in addition to the value of sea cucumber harvested for export.
  • Aquarium Fisheries Regulation: MIMRA submitted the Aquarium Fisheries Regulations to the Marshall Islands High Court for public access online. The regulations were approved by Cabinet. MIMRA has authority to regulate the holding, purchase, sale and export of marine ornaments. The regulations also provide measures to control and support local governments' capacity to regulate the collection of marine ornamentals, which has developed as a small but significant industry in the Marshall Islands.

Enforcement: MIMRA continued active enforcement of fisheries laws and regulations. This resulted in court filings againts a number of fishing vessels and settlements leading to a record level of fines totaling $3,250,000. There is zero tolerance for fishing vessels that violate fisheries provisions in national laws. MIMRA, with the support of the Marshall Islands Police Department/Sea Patrol and the Attorney General's office, actively monitored commercial tuna fishing operations in RMI waters. Seven vessels paid fines ranging from $55,000 to $1 million during FY2015. Fishing vessels were fined for various violations, including Interference with a Fisheries Observer in the Performance of his Duties, violation the terms of their licenses, fishing without a valid license, and possession of sharks and shark fins. A total of six fishing vessels paid fines during this periods.

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