Last Thursday, October 28th, the Palau National Marine Sanctuary celebrated its 6th anniversary at Kokusai, Ngatpang, drawing over 200 attendees. The event, which featured guest speakers, educational booths and a leadership cook-off, showcased the Sanctuary’s goals, successes, and benefits to Palau.
“The PNMS was established to conserve our ocean resources and strengthen our food security” said King Sam, PNMS Director. “Six years later, it stands as one of the largest marine protected areas in the world. It’s an amazing accomplishment to celebrate.”
The event began with representation from the nationaland state leadership opening and welcoming everyone to the anniversary: this included Vice President and Minister of Justice Uduch Sengebau Senior, Senator Umiich Sengebau, Delegate Timothy Sinsak, Chairman of the Governors’ Association and Peleliu GovernorTemmy Shmull along withthe former President,Maderngebuked Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr.
“For six years, the Sanctuary has been a success” said Delegate Sinsak. “It’s ours, we’re still studying it, let’s see it through.”
Pelagic fish cooking also took center stage at the celebration, highlighting the Sanctuary’s support for domestic fisheries. Local vendors provided free samples of a range of pelagic fish preparations, including sashimi, sandwiches and quesadillas.
Leadership teams representing Aimeliik, Hatohobei, Ngardmau, Ngeremlengui, Ngatpang and Melekeok competed in a head-to-head pelagic fish cook-off. Team Ngardmau took home first place, winning a fishing trip sponsored by Northern Reef Fisheries Cooperative. Hatohobei and Ngatpang placed second and third, winning fishing supplies donated by The Nature Conservancy.
All pelagic fish for the event was purchased from Belau Offshore Fishers Incorporated (BOFI) and the Northern Reef Fisheries Cooperative, which distributed canned tuna prizes as well.
The celebration also featured student artwork from the Imagining the Deep Ocean art contest, which prompted students to draw the creatures they envisioned in the deepest waters of the PNMS. Abel Garcia, Grade 3, Arylana Humio, Grade 5, Auryn Benhart, Grade 10 and Denglei Lucas, Grade 8, won first prize in their categories and will receive a free surveillance trip aboard the PSS Remeliik II courtesy of the Division of Marine Law Enforcement.
Appreciation goes out to His Excellency, President Surangel Whipps, Jr, Vice President and Minister of Justice Uduch Sengebau Senior, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health and Human Services, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure and Industries and the Bureau of Public Works, the Remengesau2 Foundation, Palau Conservation Society, Northern Reef Fisheries Cooperative, Globus Trading Company, The Nature Conservancy, Belau Offshore Fishers Inc, Friends of the PNMS and Palau Pledge, Ebiil Society, Palau Visitors Authority, Belau Association of NGOs, Bella Wings Aviation, Palau Wave Productions, Eric Vereen, Palau National Communications Corporation and the PNMS Advisory Committee for supporting and contributing to the 6th PNMS Anniversary.