By: L.N. Reklai
“The next four years will be exciting for both Department of Marine Law Enforcement (DMLE) and Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS),” reported Keobel Sakuma, Director of PNMS on the implementation of PNMS monitoring plan.
Additional funding, new recruits, new personnel, trainings, new enforcement assets like 2 40m class patrol boats and 2 smaller ones, equipment, new facilities and a 24-hour Interagency Maritime Coordination Center, will be coming online within the next four years for the DMLE and PNMS, according to Mr. Keobel Sakuma.
“Currently, Palau’s capacity is definitely limited as we rely on one patrol vessel with limited to no aerial surveillance but in the coming months, as these components are brought online, we should see the marked improvement of surveillance and enforcement in our EEZ,” stated Mr. Sakuma.
The establishment of a 24hr hotline for reporting illegal activity in the Palau National Marine Sanctuary to the inter-agency maritime coordination center via telephone and HF radio is also underway
Starting this September until January, hiring of 15 new recruits to crew the new vessels will begin. Training for this crew will be provided by Australia, while salaries will be provided by Nippon Peace Foundation and Sasakawa Foundation for 10 years.
Australia’s Pacific Maritime Security Program will be providing a new 40m class vessel to replace the aging Remeliik by the end of 2018. Nippon Foundation will be providing another similar size vessel and Palau will have 2 offshore patrol boats in its disposal.
In addition, Sakuma reported that ship-rider agreements with the USCG and Japan Coast Guard will allow Palau to more effectively monitor and enforce its entire EEZ
Palau is working on agreement with “Project Eyes on the Sea”, a satellite surveillance service provider, which will provide PNMS and DMLE’s surveillance personnel the ability to monitor Palau’s EZZ in real time using high resolution satellite imagery.
“The recent incident involving the reported Philippine vessels off of Sonsorol is indeed justification of the need to bring together all parts of the new strategy and the need for an inter-agency coordinating group headed by the PNMS. In this latest incident, unfortunately the PSS President H.I. Remeliik was unable to proceed to sea due to an engineering issue,” stated Sakuma in an interview. [/restrict]