Japan pledges to help Palau’s maritime security

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Japan has pledged US$3.6 million in aid to strengthen Palau’s maritime security and fisheries.

Last month in Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met President Tommy Remengesau Jr. and reiterated Japan’s continued cooperation with Palau for a“free-and-open Indo Pacific”, including maritime security and connectivity.

Both leaders attended the signing ceremony on grant aid, which includes the provision of motorboats and floating markers as assistance towards the fields of maritime security and fishery.

During the visit both leaders also confirmed their continued cooperating on the recovery of the remains of the war dead, the stable operation of the Japanese fishing vessels, and people-to-people exchanges including those of young generations.

Japan has a pending request with Palau to allow small scale fishermen from Okinawa to fish in Palau’s waters, even after the implementation of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) in 2020.

Remengesau, however, said the fishing should occur in the Domestic Fishing Zone which encompasses 85,896 square miles of Palau’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Eighty percent of the EEZ would be a “no-take zone.”

“We are not going to compromise the integrity of the PNMS,” he said. “However, we are mindful of the 20 percent domestic fishing zone, which is a big area.

During the meeting with Abe, both countries have agreed to further discuss the request.

Japan is one of Palau’s closest allies with  millions of aid provided to the country to build roads,  infrastructure and  recently a new patrol boat to help police Palau’s EEZ.

Japan has also  pledged support  to Palau’s hosting of the Our Oceans Conference in 2020.

Under the PNMS law, a dedicated 20 percent of the EEZ will be accessible to domestic fishing fleets. But the domestic fishing zone will be reserved for local fishermen and prohibit exports

The law also requires that any fish caught in the domestic fishing zone   should be offloaded in Palau.

Currently the fishermen from Okinawa conduct fishing outside the domestic area, which will be closed to commercial fishing when the PNMS law takes effect by January 1, 2020.