Photo Credit: Christina Hepburn

A petition created by a woman named Christina Hepburn circulating around Facebook with the intention of protecting Napoleon Wrasse and Humphead Parrotfish has accumulated 1,959 signatures and counting.

Olbiil Era Kelulau passed a bill recently proposing to amend the total ban on harvest of adult Napoleon Wrasse and Humphead Parrotfish allowing for a 2 month catching period out of the year. OEK cited a report done by the Palau International Coral Reef Center indicating a recovery of the population for the Napoleon Wrasse and Humphead Parrotfish.

They also expressed that opening a limited fishing season is necessary for the practice of Palauan tradition and customs. According to the bill, the Bureau of Marine Resources and PICRC will work together to submit reports of the population of both fish to the OEK after the 2nd and 4th fishing season.

However, Hepburn said that this bill is a “contradiction to all the Marine Conservation efforts that have been put in place by the President’s Administration and Marine Conservationists in Palau.”

She said that by allowing the capture of both fish for the sake of personal consumption and other related purposes could possibly lead to over-fishing and could impact the marine environment negatively. Hepburn believes that protecting this fish is not only important for the environment, but for Palau’s tourism as well.

“Napoleon Wrasse is a beautiful, long-living, and intelligent fish. They recognize returning divers to dive sites which is why it is a major tourist attraction and draw for divers at dive sites like Palau’s famous Blue Corner,” stated Hepburn.

Regarding Humphead Parrotfish she said that the “The Humphead aggregation happens every month with a lunar component. Its spawning is a unique event that Palau is known for. If one wanted to witness this behavioral and reproductive activity, Palau is the place that attracts scuba divers and scientists to dive here.”

The petition is still open at for those that wish to sign and the new goal is to accumulate 2,500 signatures.

On the website, Christina expressed her thanks to those that signed saying that “I am in awe and thank you for our great start in our petition to protect these species and marine life. In 48 hours we received approximately 1500 signatures and emails!  Please continue to share this link with everyone we can reach; we are all an instrument of “CHANGE” to save our Planet. With deepest love and gratitude.”