Pacific's Palau looks at commercial fishing ban

March 15, 2013 by Bernadette Carreon
This file photo, provided by the Pew Environment Group, shows a diver looking at reef sharks off the coast of the Pacific island nation of Palau, on June 20, 2009. Palau's president has proposed banning all commercial fishing in the territory's waters to create one of the world's largest marine reserves, covering an area roughly the size of France.

Palau's president has proposed banning all commercial fishing in the Pacific nation's waters to create one of the world's largest marine reserves, covering an area roughly the size of France.

President Tommy Remengesau said the nation of 300 islands with a population of about 21,000 generated negligible revenue from foreign fishing vessels plying its waters and he preferred to concentrate on attracting tourists.

Remengesau, who was elected last November, said Palau was already regarded a a leader in after creating the world's first shark sanctuary in 2009.

"Our vision is for an area that is so well protected that Palau becomes the world's largest marine sanctuary," he said this week.

"No longer will Palau be merely a shark sanctuary, it will be a sea sanctuary that protects all within Palau's exclusive economic zone (EEZ)."

The EEZ covers almost 630,000 square kilometres (240,000 square miles) of the northern Pacific, including world-renowned scuba diving and snorkelling sites.

This file photo shows a Blue Corner shark with jack escort, off the coast of the Pacific island nation of Palau, pictured on June 20, 2009. Palau's president has proposed banning all commercial fishing in the territory's waters to create one of the world's largest marine reserves, covering an area roughly the size of France.

Natural Resources Minister Umiich Sengebau said the country earned only about $5.0 million a year from the , with about $4.0 million coming from tuna fishing, which is dominated by vessels from Japan and Taiwan.

"The president feels that Palau is shortchanged," Sengebau told AFP.

He said Palau licensed a total of 129 foreign fishing vessels in 2010 but Pacific island nations received only a fraction of the income generated by tuna captured in their waters.

Remengesau said the Asian Development Bank estimated the global tuna industry was worth $4.0 billion a year and only nine percent went to Pacific nations where most of the fish are caught.

"Revenue received from commercial fishing licences and taxes from commercial fishing is a drop in the bucket compared to the profits made by large fishing companies," he said in a statement.

"An EEZ-wide no zone would mean that only sustenance fishing by Palauan residents and tourism-related sport catch-and-release fishing would be permitted."

He said the proposal was in its early stages and the government would look at alternative revenue sources before implementing it, particularly tourism.

"Some of that revenue will be recovered simply through the increase in tourism that results from the incredible biodiversity that will be protected by our sea sanctuary," he said.

Palau has only one ageing patrol boat and Remengesau conceded that enforcing any ban would be difficult, but was confident it could be achieved.

Explore further: Palau creates world's first shark sanctuary

Related Stories

Palau creates world's first shark sanctuary

September 25, 2009

(AP) -- The tiny Pacific nation of Palau is creating the world's first shark sanctuary, a biological hotspot to protect great hammerheads, leopard sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks and more than 130 other species fighting ...

Bahamas bans shark fishing

July 5, 2011

The Bahamas on Tuesday announced a ban on shark fishing, becoming the latest country to protect the ancient sea predator which is considered at risk due to demand for its fins in Chinese cuisine.

Big nations block curbs on tuna overfishing

December 6, 2012

Efforts to curb overfishing of tuna in the Pacific were blocked by big countries that refused to cut their catch at a meeting of tuna-fishing nations in the Asia-Pacific, delegates said Thursday.

Recommended for you

Genomes uncover life's early history

August 24, 2015

A University of Manchester scientist is part of a team which has carried out one of the biggest ever analyses of genomes on life of all forms.

Rare nautilus sighted for the first time in three decades

August 25, 2015

In early August, biologist Peter Ward returned from the South Pacific with news that he encountered an old friend, one he hadn't seen in over three decades. The University of Washington professor had seen what he considers ...

Why a mutant rice called Big Grain1 yields such big grains

August 24, 2015

(Phys.org)—Rice is one of the most important staple crops grown by humans—very possibly the most important in history. With 4.3 billion inhabitants, Asia is home to 60 percent of the world's population, so it's unsurprising ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.