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Palau wants to accommodate the request of Japan to allow fishermen from Okinawa to continue fishing within its waters even after the implementation of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) next year, according to President Tommy Remengesau, Jr.

Remengesau, who was speaking before the press on May 29 in a weekly conference, said that Japan and Palau have close relationship and that the latter wants to ‘be able to accommodate whatever it can’ from the request saying that there are only about 15 family fishermen from Okinawa who are fishing within the country’s waters. In our previous report, however, a Japanese official said 20 small-scale longliners from Okinawa will be affected once the PNMS takes effect.

Remengesau said that he is happy the Japan government, after previously requesting for the delay of the PNMS implementation, had respected the integrity of the marine sanctuary after discussions.

“They see the value in what we do so our focus now is just on the 20%,” Remengesau said.

Despite many propositions to amend the PNMS law with only about less than a year left before it takes effect, Remengesau is firm in his stance that the PNMS should be implemented come 2020.

“There is no reason why we should delay. The main task at hand is the formulation of the 20% [domestic fishing zone] and the domestic requirements,” Remengesau said.

As one of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), Remengesau also said that Palau cannot differentiate itself from its PNA obligations and membership requirements.

He also cited the need for the country to have flexibility on the export requirement. The current PNMS law does not allow export of fish from Palau once the implementation comes in full swing in 2020.

Under the current PNMS law, Palau will not allow fishing or mining within the 80% of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) starting 2020 while the remaining 20% will be open to domestic fishing only. (By Rhealyn C. Pojas)