The Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) maybe critical in adapting to the impacts of climate change, according to a recent report by Palau International Coral Reef Center and the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions.

The the report, launched last week, noted “total fisheries catch potential within the Western-Pacific Region will likely decrease by 25 percent by 2050 and by 30–50 percent by 2100 (from a baseline year of 2010).”

It also said that key tuna species such as skipjack, yellowfin, and bigeye tuna  analysis shows that biomass could decrease by up to 33% by 2100 (from a baseline year of 2010).

But because the famed PNMS- once it takes effect on January 1, 2020- will be one of the “largest no-take marine protected areas (MPAs) in the world,” will help reduce pressure   “on species and ecosystems that are important to the people of Palau.”

The report said climate-modeling shows that average sea surface temperatures (SST) in the Pacific region will increase by 1–3 ̊C by 2100 and reduce dissolved oxygen in the surface layer of the ocean by 15–30%.

The warming oceans will then have impacts to the fish population but given how big PNMS will cover, it will provide protection and habitat to spawning aggregation sites and  decrease deaths of  seabirds, turtles, sharks, and billfishes that are currently caught as by-catch by large scale commercial vessels.

PICRC, Stanford University and several stakeholders collaborated on the report  in support of the  implementation and decision making for the PNMS.

The PNMS will cover an area of about 500,000 square kilometers and places a ban on any extractive activities, including fishing, mining, trans-shipment, and shark finning, among others.

President Tommy Remengesau said he is looking forward to the initiative finally “come into fruition”.

“Hopefully the marine sanctuary will always stand as a reminder [that] we have to live and respect the environment because the environment is the nest of life, and without the next nobody in Palau can survive,” Mr. Remengesau said. (Bernadette H. Carreon)