Taiwan and Palau signed a coast guard cooperation agreement to help police the island nation’s conservation area and fight illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) and maritime crimes.
During the state banquet, March 22, hosted by the Palau government for President Tsai Ing-wen and her delegation, Taiwan announced that in line with the agreement, it is gifting the island nation with a patrol boat to help stem maritime crime.
President Tommy Remengesau Jr. thanked Taiwan for continuing to be a “staunch partner” of Palau as it prepares to prohibit a huge part of its exclusive economic zone to commercial fishing by January 1, 2020.
“Tonight sees the handover of one of the most visible forms of this partnership through the new patrol boat for our coast guard. As our friends from Taiwan know all too well, as island states, securing our ocean spaces is vital to allow our respective national projects to flourish,” Remenegsau stated.
Vice President Raynold Oilouch and Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu signed the agreement. Foreign Minister Wu also presented two miniature model patrol boats to Vice President Oilouch as a gift.
President Tsai praised Palau as a tourist destination and vowed Taiwan would continue to work with the country in various fields including marine conservation.
Tsai said Palau and Taiwan’s relationship: “show that oceans do not separate us, but bind us together.”
Under the agreement, Taiwan and Palau “agree to seek feasibility of cooperation in the following: exchange of personnel visiting; exchange of personnel for training; Maritime Search and Rescue; Fisheries Law enforcement; and cooperation in combating transnational crime.”
Taiwan has also donated a total of $1 million to the marine sanctuary fund, a pledge it made in 2015 when the legislation was signed.
Remengesau said the new patrol boat: “will augment our marine capabilities, strengthen our security, and be a vital tool in ensuring that the Sanctuary contributes to our sustainable development.”
Palau students currently on scholarships at the Taiwan Naval Academy would join the patrol boat crew when it’s officially delivered, Remengesau said
The Taiwanese naval patrol frigate Hsun Hu No. 7 took part in joint exercises with Palau’s Coast Guard on March 23.
By January 1, 2020, Palau is prohibiting all commercial fishing in 80 percent of its EEZ while 20 percent will be designated as domestic fishing zone to improve the nation’s food security.
Fishing nations that largely conduct commercial fishing in Palau are from Japan and Taiwan.
The Taiwan Embassy here said that presently Taiwan has 42 fishing boats operating in Palau waters which provide an “annual contribution to fishing related incomes in Palau exceeds USD 6.9 million.”
“Their future operations will be affected by the coming implementation of PNMS in 2020,” it stated.
Although Taiwan embassy said it supports the implementation of the marine sanctuary, it hopes to “bridge a solution that can be accepted by both the ROP Government and Taiwan fishing operators.”
The embassy said Taiwan fishing operators wish to continue fishing in Palau waters, and “unload their catch in Palau; and Palau can continue to enjoy the economic benefits.”