The Council of Chiefs asked the members of the House of Delegates to rethink entertaining proposals to allow foreign fishing within the marine sanctuary which will essentially suspend the country’s Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS).

In a letter to House Speaker Sabino Anastacio last week, traditional leaders opposed the bill

that will temporarily suspend the famed Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) law to

give way to foreign fishing fleets. 

House Bill 11-30-2S seeks to amend PNMS Act by lifting the ban on fishing within the 80%

EEZ currently designated as a no-fishing zone.  

The bill proposes to allow foreign fishing companies to conduct long line and purse seining

activities within what is now the no-take zone of the PNMS for a period of five years.

The traditional leaders said the financial and technical assistance brought by the PNMS

outweighs the revenues earned through licensing of fishing fleets. 

The chiefs cited that the PNMS has received over $100 million assistance since its

inception.  They added that PNMS has also led the country to hosting of Our Oceans

Conference set for 2022. 

“In our humble opinion, it is in Palau’s best interest if we are more vigilant and more

protective of the PNMS for a more fruitful harvest that is yet to come,” the letter stated.

The council of chiefs also stressed that the passage of the proposal could impact Palau’s

international standing.

 “So the questions we want you and your colleagues to address are simple and few, is this

the best solution? Is it backed by scientific data, how much money exactly are we talking

about that can be realized if the bill is passed into law”?

The traditional leaders also highlighted PNMS significance as an important environmental

policy that should be given time to succeed. 

The leaders said that Palau should “look hard and explore other options” and allow the

PNMS law to continue “uninterrupted.’

Belau Offshore Fisheries Inc. (BOFI), a domestic fisheries group, also urged the HOD to

ensure that the bill will benefit the people of Palau. 

“We want to make sure our tuna and other pelagic species caught in our water derived

most benefit to our country than those exploiting it, “BOFI ’s Okada Techitong said in a

letter addressed to HOD.

BOFI, he said is anticipating receiving a fishing vessel from the Government of Japan to help

in Palau’s food security and development of local fishermen. 

Techitong said the bill is not also clear regarding the anticipated revenue from allowing the

foreign fishing fleets to fish in the marine sanctuary.

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