Palau takes another big step on marine conservation
Palau takes an important step towards conserving its marine resources after joining Project Eyes on the Seas.
Palau has joined Project Eyes on the Seas, a technology system designed to help monitor, detect and respond to suspected illegal fishing activity.
This system was developed by Satellite Applications Catapult, a British company established through a UK government initiative and US NGO Pew Charitable Trusts.
The move comes after Palau's President Tommy Remengesau asked Pew to assist with an enforcement plan for the proposed Palau National Marine Sanctuary.
The President's spokesman, Olkeriil Kazuo, spoke to Johnny Blades about joining Project Eyes on the Seas.
OLKERIIL KAZUO: It's a huge step for Palau, and the Pew Charitable Trust has certainly delivered on their commitment to helping Palau. Project Eyes on the Seas is able to locate any vessel, particularly an illegal vessel, in Palau. And they monitor the vessel until it makes some suspicious activity, and are able to contact with the national patrol boat to intercept any and such vessel and bring them in. This certainly helps with the costs of monitoring where the patrol boat, before Project Eyes on the Seas, would monitor Palau all over; with this project, they're able to locate a ship, pinpoint its location and address it as soon as possible.
JOHNNY BLADES: What other countries are using or part of Project Eyes on the Seas?
OK: I'm informed that Chile is part of this project.
JB: Now Palau, obviously you've got that large shark sanctuary. Am I right that there are plans to expand that into other areas?
OK: Palau currently is a shark sanctuary, but the proposal for the whole two hundred mile-exclusive economic zone will have eighty percent of that area as a marine sanctuary, banning all commercial fishing from this area.
JB: When you say banning all commercial fishing, this is local as well as foreign vessels?
OK: Foreign commercial fishing will be banned. A domestic fishing area of twenty percent will be allocated for domestic vessels, local domestic companies.
JB: So Palau really is leading the way among the Pacific Island countries in terms of protecting its marine resources. This is a commitment, is it right across the political spectrum in Palau that everyone's behind this?
OK: Everyone is behind it. The Marine Sanctuary Bill now sits in congress, awaiting passage. But we have a strong support from the Palauan community, as of today. The Pacific Ocean accounts for sixty to seventy percent of the world's tuna resource. We should all come together and try and regenerate these depleting resources, and conservation is the key to that effort.
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