[]Bill to regulate giant clams harvesting changed

 By Rhealyn C. Pojas Reporter

Some amendments were made by the House of Delegates on the bill that proposes to impose regulation on the harvesting of specified giant clam species.

The drafting of the bill followed after authorities were alarmed at the declining number of giant clams in Palau’s waters.

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During the third reading in the fifth regular session of the 10th Olbiil Era Kelulau (OEK) which was held on January 30, Delegate Lee Otobed introduced the amendments made by the floor on the bill to amend Section 1204 of Title 27, Chapter 4 of Title 24, and Section 1211 of Title 27 of the Palau National Code (PNC).

The proposed bill seeks to penalize the taking, selling, or purchase of the six species of giant clams namely the Otkang or True Giant Clam, Ribkungel or Fluted Giant Clam, Melibes or Elongate Giant Clam, Kism or Smooth Giant Clam, Duadeb or Bear Claw Giant Clam, Duadou or China Giant Clam.

Exemptions only apply if the clams are found to be cultured, taken under the permit granted by a state in accordance with regulations issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism or if the clams are found to be originating outside the country.

The floor amendments cited that the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment, and Tourism shall be required to replenish the population of giant clams in Palau and not just on the Protected Areas Network (PAN) sites.

It also called for the strengthening of the reporting requirements of the Bureau of Marine Resources with respect to their clam sustainability project and other related purposes.

On top of that, it also cited that PAN sites and other state-identified sites shall be targeted for clam replenishment by requiring the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment, and Tourism (MNRET) to dedicate resources to support the goal.

It also called for the MNRET to identify sites for repopulation and collect required data and shall attach to their annual report the evaluation of the effectiveness of their giant repopulation programs and provide recommendations to improve their services. [/restrict]