Koror, Palau – On April 11, 2017, in collaboration with Director Fred Sengebau from the Bureau of Agriculture, EQPB Inspectors and BOA staff collected and destroyed about 500 pounds of illegally cultured shrimp from the floating cages at the Palau Fish Trading Inc. aquaculture farm in Ngerubesang, Melekeok. 

[restrict]The Environmental Quality Protection Board (EQPB) had conducted a previous inspection at the site after receiving several complaints from the public regarding the illegal farming of a non-native shrimp species on March 24, 2017. During this inspection, inspectors noted several violations in regards to the facility’s infrastructure and maintenance: the lining of the two ponds was damaged and none of the pipes at the lower end of the ponds were sealed, which resulted in the unpermitted discharge of water into the mangrove area when the pipes were flushed. Testing of water samples collected from the pond and the pipes indicated that the turbidity, pH, and salinity were significantly out of range of acceptable water quality standards, and also noted the presence of E. Coli in the water. EQPB Inspectors were able to confirm that shrimp was being illegally cultured and sold. The EQPB Permit issued only allowed for milkfish farming, for the purposes of being sold as bait, not to sell to restaurants or stores for consumption. EQPB Inspectors were able to verify the sale of shrimp to a nearby restaurant.

EQPB staff collected shrimp samples and sent to the Bureau of Agriculture and the National Invasive Species Council for identification. These samples were identified as the species of shrimp known as white shrimp (also known as white-leg shrimp, scientific name Penaeus vannamei), which the PTFI does not have a Quarantine permit for, and which is not native to Palau and poses a particular biosecurity threat. In this case, the illegal discharge of the water, and the use of the floating cages, could potentially lead to the escape of more of the shrimp into the surrounding environment, which EQPB Inspectors had observed happed some of the shrimp escape during the flushing of the pipes. This could have devastating impacts on the surrounding environment as well as on the native species of shrimp. Experts noted that “Penaeus vannamei can unquestionably survive and reproduce in Palau’s waters”. During this time, experts from the Food and Agriculture Organization were in Palau conducting a workshop for the National Consultation on Marine Invasive Species and verified the identification.

More shrimp remains in the ponds, and EQPB and BOA continues their work to fully eradicate this non-native species of shrimp from Palau. [/restrict]