Monday, February 10, 2014

Palau to focus on tourism, prohibit commercial fishing

Taipei Times via AP, United Nations: The president of Palau on Tuesday announced that his Pacific island nation will ban commercial fishing and become a marine sanctuary.

Palauan President Tommy Remengesau said in a keynote address to a UN meeting on “Healthy Oceans and Seas” that once current fishing contracts with Taiwan, Japan and some private companies expire, only fishing by island residents and tourists will be allowed in its 200 nautical mile (370.4km) exclusive economic zone.

Remengesau said establishing “a 100 percent marine sanctuary” will enable Palau to preserve “a pristine environment” and promote snorkeling, scuba diving and ecotourism as an alternative way to grow its economy. “It will make a difference if it’s just a matter of feeding ourselves and feeding the tourists,” he told a news conference. As it is right now, we’re feeding the tourist and ourselves plus millions of people outside the territory,” he said.

Palau’s population of about 20,000 people is spread across 250 islands. It shares maritime boundaries with Indonesia, the Philippines and Micronesia.

The country announced in 2009 it was creating the world’s first shark sanctuary by banning all commercial shark fishing in its territorial waters. It has also adopted the most restrictive law against bottom trawling. In 2012, its Rock Islands Southern Lagoon was named a UNESCO World Heritage site...

An aerial view of Peleliu in Palau, shot by US National Park Service 

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