Palau’s patrol vessel, PSS H. I. Remeliik concluded its eight-day surveillance of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS), and marine law enforcement officers are delighted to return with no illegal activity sighted during the mission.

All vessels were determined to be transiting through Palauan waters to fish in either the high seas or the Indonesian EEZ to the south, a report from the Marine Law Enforcement Division (MLDE) stated.

Remeliik Acting Commanding Officer, Allison Baiei said “Palau’s increased maritime surveillance patrols are clearly having a deterrent effect on illegal fishing in the PNMS.”

The surveillance report stated that the patrol concentrated on the eastern and southern areas of the PNMS, with the Remeliik also searching for any Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) in the area. Four vessels were sighted in the area, three from the Phillipines and one from Indonesia

Remeliik set sail on February 21 and was supported by the aerial surveillance aircraft funded by Australia under their Pacific Maritime Security Program (PMSP).

The aerial surveillance service will be deployed across the Central and Western Pacific region as part of the government’s $2 billion Pacific Maritime Security programme,

The aerial surveillance enhanced the ability of Pacific Island countries to defend against regional maritime security threats such as transnational crime and illegal fishing.

Palau, Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu will also benefit from the program in conjunction with the existing Australian funded Pacific Patrol Programme.

Lieutenant Commander Clint Moore, the Australian Maritime Surveillance Adviser to Palau, said ‘It is clear that the message is getting across that the PNMS is off limits for illegal fishing. The combined maritime and aerial surveillance from the assets funded by Australia is having a strong deterrent effect.”

Palau now has two patrol boats to help detect, deter and eliminate activities such as illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.

The new Nippon Foundation-funded PSS Kedam is also ready to join the coordinated maritime surveillance operation in Palau and in the region.

President Tommy Remengesau Jr. in an earlier interview said safeguarding of Palau’s vast waters will be boosted with Kedam and Remeliik working together. (Bernadette H. Carreon/Contributor)