An acting Executive Director for Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) has stepped in following the resignation of Keobel Sakuma from the post.

Nick Ngwal, Office of the President’s Senior Advisor on Maritime Affairs, Security and Special Projects said he will hold the position temporarily until a new Executive Director is hired.


Sakuma held the position as PNMS Executive Director since it became law in 2015. He was part of President’s Tommy Remengesau Jr’s signature policy from the start.

Sakuma assisted the president during the planning stages of the national marine sanctuary initiative when President Tommy Remengesau first announced it in 2014 at United Nations of the plan to ban all commercial fishing from the island country’s exclusive economic zone.

Sakuma’s resignation became effective on February 13, following the official handover of the new Nippon Foundation-funded patrol boat.

In an interview, Sakuma said it was not an easy decision to leave his post especially when he has helped with the efforts to create 80 percent of Palau’s EEZ as a national marine sanctuary.

“It’s been a very rewarding time during my time serving Palau and the government. It has been a very educational experience. I am glad was able to give my time back to the country. I have been away for a while and feels good to come back and participate both in the public and private sector, and now I am going to transition over to private sector, take advantage of the opportunities that our very ripe in Palau’s booming economy right now, “Sakuma said in an interview on Feb. 13.

Sakuma said he is delighted that he became a part of a larger group of individuals and organizations to see that Remengesau’s vision come to fruition.

He said the PNMS Office is not alone in ensuring the successful and sustainable management of the marine sanctuary once its implemented in 2021.

Sakuma said the PNMS would be in good hands with Ngwal taking the temporary role as PNMS Executive Director. (Bernadette H. Carreon) [/restrict]