By: L.N. Reklai

(Koror, Palau) Year 2016 has been a busy year for the Division of Marine Law Enforcement (DMLE).  Total of 9 fishing boats were apprehended, 6 of which are Philippine flagged ships, 2 are Vietnamese flagged ships and 1 Taiwanese ship.

“We have no problem with fuel now, with $225,000 donated by Sasakawa and Nippon Foundation and $50,000 by Overseas Fisheries Cooperation Funds.  We go out at least once a month depending on the weather and boat condition,” stated Director Thomas Tutii of DMLE.

PSS Remeliik is over 20 years old and has technical problems that would require parts to be shipped in from outside.  “Some problems, we can still find solutions to but some, we just have to wait for parts to arrive,” added Tutii.

Over 50 tons of tuna combined were confiscated from these boats.  About 22 tons were sold netting over $45,000. Others just spoiled and have to be discarded according to Director Tutii.

“We confiscated from the Vietnamese boats over 70 drums of sea cucumber.  We sold that off for $10,000. For the Taiwanese boat, they agreed to pay the fine of $75,000,” reported Tutii.

Division of Marine Law Enforcement is getting a boost from the support of the Nippon Foundation and Sasakawa  Peace Foundation.  Both entities are providing salaries for 20 new recruits.  They will also provide a brand new boat slightly larger than PSS Remeliik by end of 2018.

In addition, Australian Government is training the recruits. So far of the 9 recruits already hired, many of them have been going to 3-months training in Australia.  These new crew members will man the new patrol boats coming in.

Furthermore, Australia will be bringing in a brand new replacement for PSS Remeliik by 2019 and retiring Remeliik. This will mean 2 big patrol boats and 4 smaller ones to monitor and enforce Palau’s marine laws within its EEZ.

“We would like to encourage any young person interested in these positions to please apply.  You only need to have a high school diploma. We will provide all the training about the job so they need to worry about lacking information,” urged Director Thomas Tutii of DMLE.