A proposal to open a two-month fishing season for Maml (Napoleon Wrasse) and Kemedukl (Bumphead Parrotfish) is once again introduced in the Senate of the Olbiil Era Kelulau.
The measure amends RPPL 4-18 and 7-18 lifting the total ban on fishing or catching of napoleon wrasse and humphead wrasse (maml ma kemedukl) and allowing a two-month fishing season of these species for personal consumption.
The bill states that since the total ban on harvesting of these two species was put in place in 2006, the ban has achieved its goal of protecting the species and “have flourished and recovered sufficiently to allow limited harvesting.”
This proposed measure cites PICRC Technical Report 14-01 published in August 2013 and the monitoring from 2015 and 2017 showing “an increasing trend in the populations of Bumphead Parrotfish and stable populations of Napoleon Wrasse”. It said that based on this data, they believe that “limited harvest strictly for subsistence and personal consumption” should be allowed.
An Assessment of Maml and Kemedukl in Palau and Management Recommendations: Technical Report No. 14-07, by Kevin Polloi, Yimnang Golbuu, Geory Merep, Shirley Koshiba, Alan Friedlan, estimated number of Kemedukl at 556,605 kg and Maml at 151,884 kg in 2013, this after the complete ban in 2006. The study noted that historical market data from 1990 to 2006 showed low catch statistics but still stocks declines so much so that a fishery ban became necessary in order to protect stocks. In the 2003 PICRC study which led to the fishing ban of both species, it estimated Kemedukl population at 8,547 kg and Maml at 1,731 kg, on a “fast track to becoming endangered species.”
Dr. Yimnang Golbuu, Managing Director of Palau International Coral Reef Center and of Palau National Marine Sanctuary said that “In general, I support allowing harvest once populations have recovered enough so it can be sustained, even with harvesting. I really believe conservation at its core is about people and people need to benefit from conservation efforts.”
“If we do open, we need to have some process so we can track and monitor the impact of opening the season and modify if necessary,” added Dr. Golbuu.
The Technical Report 14-07 in 2013 Willingness To Pay survey showed that tourism value of “numerous large individuals” due to closed fishery to Palau is $16.1 million annually whereas the value under “Effectively managed resources” or limited harvest as proposed in this bill have estimated value of $14.5 million. Market value of harvested fish under the “Effectively managed resources” scenario is “approximately $22,000 for kemedukl and $5,577 for maml”.
The proposal was opposed when it was first proposed by citizens and non-citizens alike, some calling it a proposal to benefit only the rich, the politicians and those of high ranks.
It also garnered 5,000 online signatures internationally opposing it.
The same bill was introduced during the 10th OEK, passed both Senate and House but was referred back by former President Tommy Remengesau Jr.
Remengesau proposed changes including continuing moratorium on Maml (napoleon wrasse), and opening Kemedukl (Bumphead Parrotfish) but only for one month and with considerable restrictions.
Some of those restrictions include only permitted fishermen will be allowed to take adult Bumphead Parrot Fish for consumption in conjunction with Palauan traditional events. Any permits that are issued will be required to include appropriate restrictions, such as prohibitions on the sale, export, or interfering with spawning. He recommended however, that no permits, will be issued prior to February 1, 2022, and mandated that an updated study of the status of these species be submitted no later than February 1, 2021.
The referred bill was not acted upon by the 10th OEK and expired.