Palau proposes protection for fish

by Jessica Miller

April 15, 2008

Big news here in the South Pacific today. The president of Palau announced the Fisheries Protection Act of 2008. With an acknowledgment that large scale fishing operations are responsible for the decline of the world’s fish stocks, especially tuna, President Remengesau has proposed a bill that would protect migratory fish in Palau’s waters. The proposed bill would prohibit the commercial export of fish like tuna, billfish, and sharks from Palau and would ban foreign fishing vessels from Palau waters.

“If these activities are allowed to continue unchecked, the world faces the collapse of the marine ecosystem that supports the planet. It is Palau’s obligation as an international leader in environmental conservation to take this step,” the president said.

Catching these fish and exporting them on a non-commercial basis would still be allowed. And foreign fishing companies that already hold permits would be allowed to continue to fish until their agreements expire in 2012. Afterwards, no foreign fishing vessels would be allowed to enter Palau’s waters to fish.

President Remengesau hopes the bill will help leave these fish for the Palauan people and possibly develop the sport-fishing industry of Palau. But this is not the first time Palau has been a champion for oceans. In 2006, Palau signed into law a ban on bottom trawling and called for a moratorium on bottom trawling for the Pacific at the opening session of the United Nations Working Group on Marine Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction.

While the president acknowledges that the government might lose money when it loses its revenue from commercial permits in the beginning of 2012, it seems he is hoping it can be made up in donations.He thinks that the money will be made up in donations by environmental organizations. The proposed piece of legislation even sets up a trust fund to accept these donations.

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