They did it, they finally did it.
The country of Palau, which is made up of 250 islands located in the western Pacific Ocean, banned all commercial fishing.
AP reported that President Tommy Remengesau Jr. said in a keynote address to a U.N. meeting on “Healthy Oceans and Seas” that once current fishing contracts with Japan, Taiwan and some private companies expire, only fishing by island residents and tourists will be allowed in its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.
Remengesau said establishing “a 100 percent marine sanctuary” will enable Palau to preserve “a pristine environment” and promote recreational fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving and ecotourism as an alternative way to grow its economy. The sanctuary will be close to the same size as France.
Palau is arguably a trendsetter for the eco-tourism way, but banning commercial fishing was just its most recent initiative.
In 2009, Palau announced that 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. Huffington Post named Palau in the 10 Most Ethical Destinations on Earth.
Remengesau said that the sanctuary will support aquatic life to recover from overfishing elsewhere.
The Herald Sun reported that President Remengasau said, “We will do our part of making sure that there’s a healthy stock of fish in Palau that then can migrate to other places.”
He brought up a study that said a live shark is worth $1.9 million (USD) as a tourist attraction compared to a dead shark which is worth several hundred dollars for its fins for the Asian delicacy shark fin soup.
Sport Fishing wrote about Palau and some of its initiatives last year in “What Palau Understands That California Doesn’t.”