Saying it will impact small scale fishermen in Okinawa, Japan is requesting the government of Palau to allow the  vessels to continue fishing even after the implementation of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary after 2020.

At the sidelines of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission last week in Honolulu, Hawaii, Japan’s Head of  Shingo Ota, said several fishermen from Okinawa will lose their livelihood after Palau’s waters is closed to commercial fishing.

“If Palau is going to close the area those vessels have nowhere to go,” Ota said.

He said one option they are looking is for the fishermen to be allowed to fish for “research purposes.”

Ota said the the Okinawa fishermen rely on Palau waters to catch skipjack.

“They have been dependent on the same fishing ground for many years and it’s very difficult for them to find alternative fishing grounds because they are accustomed to the Palau EEZ and maybe (it’s) easy for them to find fish,” Ota told reporters last week.

Ota said the closure will impact the Okinawa fleet or what he described as 20 small-scale longliners.

Ota said Palau’s fishing grounds are closest to Okinawa.

He told reporters that Japan is in talks with Palau but said refused to go into for details about the request.

Ota  added  the affected  vessels  catch no more than 20 tonnes compared to the large scale which is usually 400 tons.

When Palau closes 80 percent of Exclusive Economic Zone, no fishing or mining will be allowed.

A dedicated 20 per cent of the EEZ will be accessible to domestic fishing fleets.

The Palau National Marine Sanctuary is President Tommy Remengesau’s signature policy.

Japan is one of Palau’s largest foreign donors, providing aid  to build roads and bridges.