Fishing rights fees to the sixteen state governments have been declining over the years but States have been receiving funds from sources such as Green fees, Vessel Day Scheme (VDS), Pristine Paradise Environment Fee (PPEF), Micronesia Challenge, and other appropriations according to report from the Ministry of Finance. These funds do not include the annual block grant given to each State government but in addition to the block grants.

In 2016, States received $4.35 million and of this amount, $1.08 million came from Fishing Rights.  $3.2 million difference came from Vessel Day Scheme, Green Fees and other appropriations.  In 2017, States received $2.17 million, $429 thousand came from Fishing Rights and $1.74 million came from Green fees, VDS, appropriations and donations.  In 2018, all 16 states received a total of $1.57 million with none coming fishing rights fees.

“There are no fishing rights fees for 2018 because those were included in 2017 negotiations.  The total amount was only $429,073.  Compared to Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) fees for 2017, which was $9.2 million.  This year, we have received $8.4 million from VDS and just now, about $900k additional was recently received.  This fund comes because of our membership in the Parties to Nauru Agreement (PNA).  Within that agreement, there is a mandate to set aside conservation areas and our contribution to that is the Palau Marine Sanctuary.  As member, we have fishing days to sell even though fishing companies do not actually fish in our waters,” stated Minister of Finance Elbuchel Sadang.

“States receive $12.50 from PPEF and this amount will go up with the number of visitors,” added Sadang.

Other source of funds for the States include interest income from Palau’s investment in the Micronesia Challenge which is disbursed to the State governments through the Protected Areas Network Fund (PANF).

Recently, two bills were proposed in the Senate seeking to delay the implementation of Palau Marine Sanctuary Law which will stop fishing activity within 80% of Palau’s EEZ by year 2020.  Reason given for such proposals cite decline in funding to State government from the Fishing Rights.

It has been revealed recently that Japanese fishing companies have approached Palau seeking to continue fishing in Palau waters beyond 2020 cut-off date. (L.N. Reklai)