In recent years, the trend in the Pacific has been for tiny nations to make very big conservation commitments. Palau has just followed suit by designating 80 percent of the nation’s maritime territory as ʻfully protectedʻ through the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Act.
“Today is a historic day for Palau, proving that a small island nation can have a big impact on the ocean,” said the country’s president, Tommy E Remengesau Jr.
The marine reserve will not allow for extractive activities, such as fishing or mining, however, 20 percent of Palau’s waters will be a domestic fishing zone that will support the needs of local fisherman and allow small-scale commercial fisheries with limited exports. However, there are also increased measures to prevent illegal fishing by vessels passing through Palau’s waters.
Palau participated in Big Ocean’s 6th Business Meeting held in conjunction with the 2014 World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia. At the time, officials had hoped to be able to formally announce the establishment of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary but it would be another year before this was made possible. With that said the nation’s massive sanctuary, approved by the national congress yesterday, covers 500,000 square kilometers or 193,000 square miles, which is twice the size of Mexico and makes it the sixth-largest, fully-protected marine area in the world––this kind of success story seems worth the wait.
For additional information, link to Palau’s National Marine Sanctuary Campaign, as well as these article by the Guardian and the Associated Press.
- PALAU OCEANS and the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Campaign
- Pacific nation of Palau making most of its seas a sanctuary
Associated Press • By ELAINE KURTENBACH, Oct. 22, 2015
- Palau approves huge Pacific marine sanctuary
the Guardian • By ADAM VAUGHAN, Oct. 22, 2015