A measure to amend 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 for two months fishing of these species for personal consumption has passed both houses of OEK and now pending before President Remengesau for his signature.

During the press conference this week, President Remengesau Jr. said he was awaiting further advice from the scientific community on how best to address the proposed change.

The proposed bill states, “The Olbiil Era Kelulau finds that taking of adult Napoleon Wrasse (maml) and adult Humphead Parrot Fish (kemedukl) during a limited season is necessary for the exercise of Palauan traditions and customs.”

The bill also states that the Palau International Coral Reef Research Centers (PICRC) monitoring report shows a recovery of the population of these species and that based on these reports, OEK believes that ban has met its goal of protecting the species and “now it is time to allow for the limited fishing season.”

The bill proposes two months out of the year open season for maml and kemedukl.  It allows for the harvest of adult fish but not the juvenile.  It also restricts personal consumption only and does not allow fishing, to sell, buy, or to export.

Despite total ban law currently in place, incidents of people fishing to sell of the Napoleon Wrasse (maml) and Humphead Parrotfish (kemedukl) is common knowledge.  Last month, a picture of Chinese national was posted on social media showing him holding up a napoleon wrasse, looking like he was trying to put it on a scale.  The post raised a lot of backlash from netizens.

Concerns are also raised by individuals in the tourism sector of the unscrupulous fishermen catching the Napoleon Wrasses that have become features of some of Palau’s dive sites and selling them for food, effectively killing what makes some of these sites famous.

The measure is currently pending the signature of the President before it takes effect. (L.N. Reklai)