By: L.N. Reklai
(Koror, Palau) Vice President and Minister of Justice Raynold Oilouch responded to inquiry from Senators explaining reasons for releasing a fish carrier Master Rustin 2 caught within Palau waters on May 6 of this year.
Master Rustin 2, a fish carrier, carrying fish and ice that it received from another fishing vessel outside Palau EEZ was transiting through Palau waters when it was caught by Palau Marine Law Enforcement.
According to Vice President Oilouch, Master Rustin 2 only violated technical portions of the Palau’s maritime law and it was arrested for those violations.
It was advised by the Attorney General to release Master Rustin 2 and its catch. Upon consultation with the Office of the President, a decision was made to send a strong message to unlicensed fishing vessels that Palau does not condone such vessels in its waters. The decision was to off load all the catch and give them to members of the public and send the fish carrier home with several dozen fishermen.
Other two fishing vessels caught fishing within Palau waters were confiscated and brought into Palau and are going through the litigation process for fishing violations.
Senators Regis Akitaya, Camsek Chin and Mason Whipps wrote a letter to Vice President Oilouch seeking explanation for the release of fish carrier and why it was not prosecuted in accordance with the law. [/restrict]