Over the past few days, Sea Shepherd Legal, in partnership with the Palau National
Marine Sanctuary Office and the Palau Bar Association, conducted Part II of a workshop series designed to help protect Palau’s National Marine Sanctuary. Like Part I, held in November 2016, the workshop has been very productive. [restrict]
The Palau National Marine Sanctuary Act (PNMSA) – President Remengesau’s signature legislation – is a powerful tool that Palau can use to prosecute and deter illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Palau’s waters. The PNMSA is designed to protect Palau’s entire Exclusive Economic Zone, an area of ocean over 630,000 square kilometers, containing some of the greatest biodiversity on the planet.
Despite the small size of Palau’s overall land mass, the Sanctuary became the 6th largest marine protected area in the world. The PNMSA, however, is just one weapon in Palau’s arsenal against IUU fishing. Palau is also taking significant measures to bolster its capacity, by increasing the number of patrol vessels, recruiting and training more patrol staff, enhancing surveillance tools and platforms, and constructing a new marine law enforcement facility.
These workshops complement the foregoing efforts. With an eloquent welcome speech
by Palau’s Vice President and Minister of Justice Raynold B. Oilouch, the workshop this
week covered a range of issues that arise in IUU fishing cases from Palau – from identification to prosecution of vessels engaged in illegal activity. Workshop participants, including senate members, other government officials, marine law enforcement staff, State rangers, prosecutors, members of the judiciary, and private attorneys, actively engaged in dialogue about the challenges in IUU cases and how the strong provisions of the PNMSA can help protect Palau’s waters.
The first workshop focused on unpacking the details of the PNMSA and its articulation
with international law, while this second workshop developed a theme of maximizing
deterrence. Focal points included strategic decision making, prioritization of targets,
effective charging strategies, and enhanced communication domestically and regionally.
The group is planning further extensive collaborative efforts to ensure that Palau’s
National Heritage is secure in the long-term. Palau National Marine Sanctuary Executive Director, Keobel Sakuma remarked that, “These workshops provide a very important way for all stakeholders and relevant sectors involved in combatting illegal fishing and protecting Palau’s maritime domain to come together and better understand the details of Palau’s National Marine Sanctuary legislation as well as share experiences and best practices in fighting Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported fishing in Palau’s EEZ.” (contributed by Sea Shepherd Legal)
About Sea Shepherd Legal:
As a public interest, nonprofit environmental law firm focused on the protection of
marine wildlife and habitats, Sea Shepherd Legal works to enforce, strengthen, and
develop protective laws, treaties, policies and practices worldwide. Sea Shepherd Legal
is involved in a range of activities, from pushing for greater protections for individual
marine species to more broadly providing comprehensive briefing to assist governments
in responding to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and other threats to marine
wildlife. www.seashepherdlegal.org [/restrict]