(By: Ngewakl Soaladaob)

Amid challenges heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic and discussions about the possibility of opening its marine sanctuary, which currently protects 80% of its waters, the Palau Government unveiled a bold objective: to manage 100% of its exclusive marine economic zones (EEZ), employing Marine Spatial Planning. To realize this ambition, Palau is employing Marine Spatial Planning approach. According to IOC-UNESCO, Marine Spatial Planning is “a public process of analyzing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas. This is done to achieve specific ecological, economic, and social objectives set through a political process.” Lukes Isechal, Palau’s Marine Spatial Planning Coordinator, spoke about the country’s plans at the Pacific Islands Conference on Ocean Science and Management in Nadi, Fiji. Isechal emphasized the significant challenge of fostering collaboration. “The key is bringing people together,” she said, underscoring the need for cooperation at local, regional, and global levels to reach the overarching marine management goal. The Pacific archipelago of Palau has long been at the forefront of marine conservation, starting from its efforts with the Northern Reef in the early 2000s to the establishment of its significant National Marine Sanctuary. The nation’s unwavering commitment to safeguarding marine ecosystems remains clear.


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