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Women of Palau that are actively involved in fisheries are not included in fisheries data collection and research and as a result, no formal support is given to them. This was revealed by Ann Kloulechad-Singeo of Ebiil Society based on a 10-year study conducted by the Society during the Palau International Women’s Day 2020 conference on Tuesday, March 10th.  The conference was themed “The Business of Culture and Well-being”.

The Palauan women in fisheries mainly collect marine species near shore or on the reefs such as sea cucumber(eremrum, molech, ngimes), clams (kim) and mangrove clams (ngduul).  Results from the study show that over 63% of this type of fisheries is done by women and over 70% of these women depend on it as primary income source to maintain their households.

Because studies in the past did not include women fishers, many of the support programs and policies aimed at supporting fishermen did not include women fishers, reported Mrs. Singeo.

The study also showed that the marine resources that the women fishers depend on for their livelihood have drastically declined in the last 10 years.  Molech (sandfish) population dropped by over 90% in 10 years.  Eremrum and ngimes suffered a nearly similar decline.  The decline is attributed to the unsustainable commercial export to China in 2012, environmental degradation and climate change.

Singeo reported that the study also collected traditional knowledge from locals about these marine animals and based on that information, it was able to show that they can be successfully bred in captivity.

One of the recommendations to supporting fisherwomen was to have the species bred in captivity and seedlings provided to women for aquaculture projects. Also, the aquaculture programs include incentives for women to reseed the wild in order to bring back the population.

President Remengesau Jr. announced that a $5 million soft loans will be available to women and youth entrepreneurs soon.  Olbiil Era Kelulau had recently authorized President Remengesau Jr. to acquire the loan in support of women and youth entrepreneurs.