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Small island nations like Palau are leading the charge in a raft of regional programs such as addressing one Pacific challenge – Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.
Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr. told reporters in a press conference on December 26 that Palau is one of the strongest advocates of sustainable future in the Pacific.
“More and more we should look at ourselves as a contributing country,” Remengesau said.
He said Palau is working with development partners to ramp up maritime surveillance in the Pacific to combat illegal fishing and other crimes at sea.
Palau, he said, will continue to work with Japan, Australia, United States and neighboring small countries.
Palau will continue to advocate for sustainable fishing as its contribution to being a part of the eight-member of the Parties of the Nauru Agreement (PNA) is to put in place policies to discourage over fishing.
“As part of the PNA member countries, we establish conservation area within each jurisdiction, in the mould of similar activities as Protected Areas Network or sanctuaries, to ensure sustainability of the fisheries resources into the future,” President Tommy Remengesau said.
The PNA controls the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery. The PNA members are Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.
Remengesau said under the PNA arrangement, Palau continue to receive its share of the revenues, despite small fishing activities in its waters.
Palau receives its share under the PNA’s Vessel Day Scheme (VDS). The VDS is a system where fishing effort in days is allocated to the eight members.
Fishing days are sold to fleets at a price of at least $8,000 per fishing day.
Palau has earned over $5 million in 2016 from its VDS revenue while the nation’s VDS revenue from longline fisheries amounted to $475,480 that year.
The President said Palau contributes to the PNA as one of the strongest champions against illegal and unsustainable fishing
“We don’t want to continue with the unsustainable fishing practice of harvest, harvest and harvest, that’s why there should be an active program to ensure sustainable population of the fish stocks in the Pacific region,” Remengesau said.
He said Palau’s national marine sanctuary law is: “Palau’s contribution to the overall PNA commitment to not only harvest but also conserve the resources.”
In an earlier statement, PNA and the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) quoted a report on the impact of IUU fishing prepared for the FFA in 2016. The report estimated the value of catch associated with illegal fishing at over US$600 million annually, with the direct economic loss to FFA members of around US$150 million
In 2015, Palau led with signing into law a legislation declaring 80 percent of its waters as a marine sanctuary, where no commercial fishing will take place.
Palau is also set to become the first country in the world to ban certain reef-toxic sunscreen and the first country to introduce a passport pledge to require tourists to protect its environment.