photo of rock islands (VOA Learning English)

President Tommy Remengesau said Palau’ marine sanctuary law which will come into effect by January 1, 2020, is a “reminder that we should lead and respect the environment because the environment is the nest of life.”

Remengesau said he is “happy” that the pioneering initiative will finally “come into fruition,” etching into the law both traditional and cultural values of Palau.

The marine sanctuary also legislates Palau’s long history of bul, where fishing restrictions are made as way of conserving and managing marine stocks.

The law designated an area of about 500,000 square kilometers in size of the nation’s EEZ which prohibits any extractive activities, including fishing, mining, transshipment and shark finning among others.

With 12 more days left before the law kicks in, Remengesau signed a new regulation that will set the guidelines in the implementation of the new marine sanctuary statute

Although the law was signed in 2015, the famed policy called for a transition period to allow the government and stakeholders to prepare for the changes.

Under the new law 80 percent of Palau’s EEZ will be a no-take marine protected area and establishes the framework within which fishing can occur in the Domestic Fishing Zone (DFZ).

The regulation also requires that by January 1, 2025, every fishing vessel, except pole and line vessels are required to have an observer and an approved monitoring electronic monitoring system.

Fishing vessels that are allowed to fish in the DFZ will also require to offload all catch when they land into port.

While the law gives the Minister of Natural Resources, Environment, and Tourism (MNRET) authority to provide exemptions on the landing of catch requirements, port samplings should be arranged to occur at the foreign port where they land.

MNRET Minister Umiich Sengebau said in a transmittal letter to the president when he submitted the new regulation for signing said it “marks a moment to celebrate.”

Remengesau said the law is a way of protecting the nation’s resources for the future generation.”

Sengebau said that Japan and Taiwan operated vessels that have expressed interests by purchasing fishing days after January 1, 2020.

He said with partnership with development partners, enforcement and surveillance of the no-take zone would also, be ramped up following the closure of a big part of the nation’s EEZ to commercial fishing. (Bernadette H. Carreon)