President Tommy Remengesau Jr. said talks regarding Japan’s request to fish in Palau waters beyond the implementation of the Marine Sanctuary is still underway.

The president however noted that under the law, 20 percent would remain open for fishing.

“Don’t forget we have 20 percent fishing allowed zone. That is another option to look at what can transpire in that 20 percent,” Remengesau said when asked about Japan’s request.

Head of Delegation for Japan Shingo Ota at last week’s Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting in Honolulu , Hawaii raised concerns  about the impact of the marine sanctuary to   20 small-scale longliners from Okinawa prefecture

Head of Delegation for Japan Shingo Ota told reporters that these fishermen will lose their livelihood     once the island nation transition  to a no-fishing zone.

He said Japan has requested Palau to allow Okinawa fishermen to continue to fish in Palau after 2020- or the implementation of the Palau Marine Sanctuary.

“We are very much concerned because this is the main fishing ground for those 20 small-scale longliners. If Palau is going to close the area those vessels have nowhere to go, “  Ota said.

He said Japan is requesting Palau to find a way, maybe through research, to allow the fishermen from Okinawa to continue fishing.

Under the law, fishing is permitted under the Domestic Fishing Zone but fish caught in the area “shall only be available for domestic sale and shall not be exported for commercial purposes.”

Japan is a close ally of Palau, with millions of dollars in aid from Tokyo to help the country build roads and infrastructure.

By 2020, Palau is set to designate 80 percent of the nation’s maritime territory as a fully protected marine area where no fishing or mining are allowed.   (Bernadette H. Carreon)