Yap Environmental Protection Authority

Established in 1986 through the Yap Environmental Quality Protection Act, the semi-autonomous Yap EPA’s mission is to preserve the important historic, cultural, and natural aspects of Yapese heritage, and protect natural resources (air, land and water quality) from human and chemical pollution.

Yap EPA is the State’s only natural resource and environmental regulatory body, and is responsible for the monitoring and enforcement of all applicable environmental laws, regulations and programs. With no national body, Yap EPA must interpret and learn to implement environmental legislation to the best of its ability and put the policies into local context. 

The Yapese are extremely proud of their traditional culture (which is arguably the most intact in Micronesia) and land and sea resources are owned and largely managed by the villages under the authority of their chiefs, elders, and others with traditional titles, roles, and responsibilities. Collaboration and management-planning with these communities is critical in compliance and enforcement efforts. 

Location

The Yap EPA office is located in Colonia township, the capital of Yap State but far from an 'urban centre', featuring only one government building; there are shops, a grocery store, several restaurants and bars, hotels, a bank, hospital, and post office. In its entirety, Yap’s 100 km2 is comprised of four contiguous islands surrounded by a broad fringing coral reef, plus a few outer atolls. The highest elevation is 175m above sea level. Its population of 12,000 people is the second smallest of Micronesia's four states. Yap is especially known among tourists for scuba diving with manta rays. Snorkelling, kayaking, fishing and hiking are also popular. The National Sports Complex is about a 20 minute drive from Colonia.

Assistance requested

Yap EPA staff members require training, advisory support, and legal assistance across a number of specialist areas, in order to help the state level agency understand and implement laws for the necessary improvements in environmental management, build administrative capacity and skills, and develop, implement and monitor compliance procedures. Compliance issues in particular face challenges presented by community stewardship; to date, Yap EPA has not issued any citations or successfully commenced any proceedings for any environmental offences. 

Impact

Through the Australian Volunteers program, an Australian Government initiative, Yap EPA staff have been supported in their collaborations with other governmental and non-governmental organisations to establish a baseline survey of water quality and provide accessible and clean water to an increased percentage of the population. Currently, the working group is working on sanitation and waste management, and they have made great policy strides in banning certain pollutants.