3,700 signatures asking to stop the bill proposing to amend the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) act have been submitted to the House of Delegates of the Palau National Congress, the Olbiil Era Kelulau. 

Of the 3,700 signatures, 3,000 are of Palauan citizens said Ann Singeo of Ebiil Society.  Another petition is still circulating she added.

The petition seeks to stop the bill from opening the PNMS to foreign fishing again and keeping the size of the no-take -zone at 80%.

The heated debate over the proposal is not abating, rather it is taking a different turn, taking on an accusatory tone toward “so-called international partners” as referred to by the statement issued by House Speaker Sabino Anastacio.

The local opposition to the bill is being attributed to foreign influence rather than an issue of local concern and interest.

In a paid statement issued in this paper today, on page 3, Speaker Anastacio accuses “international partners” of creating problems by running campaigns “that poison our social cohesion and politics.”

He said that the “partners” have “forgotten that we are a sovereign nation” and that they “lob accusations not supported by facts that destabilize our communities.”

Speaker Anastacio justifies the House bill saying it is “designed to save and develop a realistic vision for the future of the PNMs grounded in science and economics.”

On the other hand, former President Tommy Remengesau Jr. blamed the foreign fishing lobbying group for influencing national leaders’ decision to re-open 80% of the PNMS to fishing.

A letter from the Palau Council of Chiefs (COC) to NIA TERO, an environmental NGO supporting indigenous people’s efforts to protect world biodiversity, and one of the organizations that provided the funding to President Whipps’s Blue Economy Plan, expressed COC’s appreciation for the support to “bridge the revenue gap for the next three years” while an independent audit “into the natural capital and biodiversity value of the Sanctuary” takes place. (By: L.N. Reklai)

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