The Marine Conservation Institute and the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC), announced that Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) is a Blue Spark marine protected area collaboration. The Blue Spark designation reflects the leadership and commitment of PICRC to effectively implement the PNMS and shows that the protected area is making progress towards earning a prestigious Blue Park Award for conservation excellence.

“The Palau National Marine Sanctuary is a huge contribution to conservation for Palau and the world,” stated PNMS Programs Manager, King Sam. “The core goals of the PNMS have always been healthy ocean populations, food security, and sustainable development. This Blue Sparks designation showcases that we are on track to achieving these goals.”

Referred to in Palauan as Euotelel a Klingil a Debel Belau, the PNMS is one of the world’s largest marine protected areas (MPAs), closing 80% of Palau’s Exclusive Economic Zone to all forms of extractive activity. The Sanctuary’s waters support one of the densest biodiversity hotspots in the Indo-Pacific region, protecting nearly 800 known vertebrate species. PICRC is now working on extensive stakeholder engagement and the development of plans for longer-term management and monitoring, including the development of a comprehensive management plan and the implementation of the PNMS Science and Monitoring Strategy. This Strategy outlines the next ten years of research priorities in the PNMS, and will guide the pursuit of science at the national level, which is arguably unprecedented in the field of Large-Scale Marine Protected Areas.

Dr. Lance Morgan, President of Marine Conservation Institute, said, “We are committed to accelerating the protection of the ocean’s most important places, and Palau has made an exceptional commitment to protecting marine biodiversity. We are excited to partner with the Palau International Coral Reef Center as our newest Blue Spark collaboration to safeguard Palau National Marine Sanctuary’s exceptional ecosystems and their value to local communities.”

Marine Conservation Institute collaborates with Blue Spark partners to plan and improve their management and implement MPAs, using the Blue Park Award criteria as the blueprint for a better protected ocean. A Blue Park Award indicates that a marine protected area meets the highest science-based standards for marine biodiversity conservation.

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