Taiwan will give Palau a patrol boat to help strengthen its maritime surveillance amid the Palau National Marine Sanctuary taking effect on January 1, 2020.

The signing of the maritime cooperation between the two countries will be one of the highlights of Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen visit to the island nation slated from March 21 to 24.

Vice President Raynold Oilouch told reporters here on Wednesday said that there is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) ready to be signed by President Tsai and President Tommy Remengesau Jr. which will focus on maritime and security cooperation.

“One of an aspect of it, Taiwan will be providing Palau with a small patrol boat, not as big as PSS Remeliik and PSS Kedam but much smaller boat. Taiwan government will also be offering technical support training and all other support,” Oilouch said.

The Palau government has not revealed the delivery date of the patrol boat but Oilouch said the cooperation will provide the country with benefits on policing its expansive Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

By January 1, 2020, Palau is prohibiting all commercial fishing in 80 percent of its EEZ while 20 percent will be designated as a domestic fishing zone to improve the nation’s food security.

Boats that largely conduct commercial fishing in Palau are from Japan and Taiwan- two of the nation’s most generous allies.

In a statement addressed to Island Times last week, the Taiwan Embassy here said that presently Taiwan has 42 fishing boats operating in Palau waters.

The fishing boats, according to the embassy provide an “annual    contribution to fishing related incomes in Palau exceeds USD 6.9 million.”

“Their future operations will be affected by the coming implementation of PNMS in 2020,” it stated.

Although Taiwan embassy said it supports the implementation of the marine sanctuary, it hopes to “bridge a solution that can be accepted by both the ROP Government and Taiwan fishing operators.”

The embassy said Taiwan fishing operators wish to continue fishing in Palau waters, “unload their catch in Palau; and Palau can continue to enjoy the economic benefits.”

Taiwan also noted that it has contributed $1 million to the PNMS Fund and vowed to continue being a supporting partner for Palau’s PNMS policy.

Japan also made a request to the government to allow 20 small-scale fishermen from Okinawa to continue fishing in Palau waters beyond 2020.

The president said it would not compromise the integrity of the marine sanctuary but is open to a discussion with Japan to assist the Okinawan fishermen but only within the confines of the law. (Bernadette H. Carreon)