By Rhealyn C. Pojas
A bill which seeks to amend Title 27 of the Palau National Code (PNC) to help promote sustainable fishing practices and revitalize the fish species in Palau was passed on first reading by the House of Delegates during their 6th special session.
The Olbiil Era Kelulau (OEK)finds that although the Marine Protection Act of 1994 and the other proactive protection measures have helped improved fisheries management here, they “collectively have not resulted in adequate recovery and stabilization of nearshore fisheries resources,” the bill stated.
The legislative findings further stated that since late 2015, the Palau government has assembled stakeholders from the national and state level, as well as researchers, fishermen, non-profit organizations, conservationists, and others to discuss the issues concerning sustainable fisheries management.
Out of these efforts, two key recommendations were presented to the OEK and these are to establish size limits that encourage at least 30% spawning potential recruitment for fish species that are in-demand in the market and to include Manta Rays and black and red corals in the protected species list to promote reef health and sustainability. These two key recommendations were incorporated in the bill.
The bill also defines that the minimum size limit means that the size limit that encourages at least 30% spawning potential for a particular fish species shall be based on the sized determined through studies sponsored or adopted by the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment, and Tourism (MNRET).
If passed, the fishing, selling, receiving, exporting, possessing of species of groupers such as Plectropomusareolatus (tiau); P. laevis (tiau, katuu’tiau, mokas; P. leopardus (tiau); Epinepheluspolyphekadion (ksau’ temekai); E. fuscoguttatus (meteungerel’ temekai), Bumphead Parrotfish (Bolbometoponmuricatum/kemekdukl,berdebed, and any other known Palauan name), and Napoleon Wrasse (Cheilinusundulatus/maml, ngimer, and any other Palauan name) within Palau and its internal waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone are prohibited from April 1 to October 31.
The bill also seeks to prohibit the fishing, selling receiving, exporting, possessing or buying of rabbitfish (meyas, siganuscanaliculatus, siganusfuscescens) from February 1 to March 1 “provided that the fish is longer than the minimum size limit in length as measured from the tip of the head to the tip of the tail.” [/restrict]