“Ngdi teketekel ma terrudel”, said Rubekul Belau (Palau Council of Chiefs) citing a Palauan adage that means “while it’s being built, it is also being torn down”, referring to the proposal to amend the Palau National Marine Sanctuary law introduced as a rider in the FY 2022 Supplemental budget bill.
In a letter to Senate President Hokkons Baules, the Palau Council of Chiefs urged the Senators to refrain from passing the amendments to the Palau National Marine Sanctuary law, which would allow for “experimental fishing” within the 80% No-Take Zone and move research oversight from the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) to Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery and Environment (MAFE).
The Chiefs said that they consider the PNMS law as the traditional “BUL” (traditional conservation concept, prohibiting the harvest of a specific resource in order to allow its recovery) with all its implications, endorsed by the entire community.
Even though the law passed in 2015, it allowed for a phase-out period and didn’t take full effect until 2020. As a “bul”, its intended benefits have not yet been realized.
“The PNMS has existed and been operational for barely two years and should be given a chance to flourish rather than submitting to the Palauan adage of “ngdi teketekel ma terrudel” (building and tearing apart at the same time).
The traditional chiefs asked that the PNMS remain intact for the next 3 years while independent assessments are made to determine the best action to take.
“We come now before the Senate body to implore your rational and fair leadership to ensure that critical consultations, reliable data, and statistics are open for respectable dialogue to move forward on a sustainable future for all of us and the future generations of Palauans,” stated the COC.