Palau considers allowing fishing in marine sanctuary zone

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Palau has forced the Pacific island country to controversially consider legislation that would allow foreign fishing within its Exclusive Economic Zone.

The House Bill 11-30-2S, which would amend the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Act, proposes to allow foreign fishing companies to conduct long line and purse seining activities within what is now the no-take zone of the sanctuary for five years.

The bill stated that lifting the ban could aid Palau’s economic recovery.

A similar proposal was among the subjects of debate during Palau’s election period last year.

“There is more to gain under the current system. It is about how to maximise our resources to benefit the Palauan people,” then president-elect Surangel Whipps Jr said last December during a press conference on his opinion on Palau Marine Sanctuary Act.

The republic currently receives an average of US$8 million per year from the vessel days scheme even though there is no fishing in 80 per cent of its Exclusive Economic Zone.

Palau has received over US$70 million in grants for the implementation of the Palau Marine Sanctuary Act.

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