Minister Umiich Sengebau

Whale meat is off the menu in Palau, Minister of Natural Resources, Environment, and Tourism (MNRET) Umiich Sengebau said in an interview.

Sengebau was debunking an Associated Press article that quoted the Icelandic Travel Industry Association statement that Iceland is claiming that there is whale meat market “in Japan, Norway and the Republic of Palau.”

“We are not a market for whale meat, it is not a traditional food in Palau,” Sengebau said.

Sengebau said Palau do not import whale meat adding that it is unpopular to harvest whales in the country.

In 2010, during the administration of former President Johnson Toribiong, Palau has declared all the waters within its Exclusive Economic Zone to be a marine mammal sanctuary, protecting whales, dolphins, and dugongs.

Palau has various species of cetaceans in its waters, including sperm whales, pilot whales, melon-head whales, dolphins, while Palau’s dugongs are an endangered population.

Prior to the whale sanctuary declaration, Palau has supported Japan’s killing of whales for “scientific purposes” despite the international ban on global whaling.

In the Associated Press article last week, Iceland’s whaling industry will be allowed to keep hunting whales for at least another five years, killing up to 2,130 baleen whales. It said that it has a global market for whale meat.

Palau’s economy comes from tourism and is a known environmental leader in the Pacific. (Bernadette H. Carreon)