Palau’s National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) gained the commitments and support from the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, and Nauru to “work with one another” to expand national and regional marine protection initiatives.

In the communique signed by the Micronesian leaders during the annual Micronesia Presidents’ Summit held here last week stated that the nations would commit to ocean conservation. The commitment follows the PNMS effort to protect marine resources.

“We can shepherd the world towards practical protection of our oceans and our marine resources through the economically feasible declaration of protected areas,” Remengesau stated in his summit’s closing remarks.

The PNMS is Palau’s most ambitious conservation policy, closing 80 percent of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by January 1, 2020, to commercial fishing.

Like Palau, Kiribati has also declared the Phoenix Islands as a marine protected area, which covered an area of 410,500-square-kilometer.

Although Palau will lose revenues from licenses issued to commercial fishing vessels, despite the tuna industry contributing around US$5.5 million a year, Remengesau said it ensures that Palau’s pristine ocean is managed sustainably for the future generations.

FFA Director General, Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen who attended the summit, lauded Palau’s PNMS.

“The vision of President Remenegsau is compatible with the priorities across the region for the sustainability of our fisheries resources,” she said.

FFA will work with Palau to ensure the sustainable management of its domestic fishery, while also assisting the nation in monitoring and surveillance of the area that will be closed to commercial fishing.

The PNMS, however, is under fire with majority members of the Senate pushing for legislation that will delay its implementation for another five years citing that the fisheries revenues can make up for the revenue loss from the tourism slowdown. (Bernadette H. Carreon)