The unmatched natural beauty surrounding Palau’s archipelago is a major driver for ecotourism, which in turn generates long-term social and economic security for the island nation’s nearly 21,000 residents.
Monitoring and surveillance is a critical component of efforts to secure a national sanctuary in Palau’s waters, which has been proposed by President Tommy Remengasau, Jr. to cover up to 500,000 square kilometers or 80 percent of the nation’s waters. The National Marine Sanctuary would provide a zone exclusively for domestic fishing, while phasing our industrial foreign fishing.
Today Republic of Palau and United States officials held a Joint Maritime Domain Awareness Demonstration at the Marine Law Enforcement building. The surveillance program uses a suite of monitoring tools, including vessel monitoring systems, ground surveillance towers, and a manned aircraft system, to identify potential instances of illegal fishing activities.
Over the past few weeks the program, utilizing the Sea Dragon aircraft technology, has identified several potential instances of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities in Palau’s waters.
A Comprehensive Approach to Protecting the Pacific
The Pacific, Earth’s largest ocean, is a complex ecosystem that supports life both at sea and on shore. Protecting this biodiversity is vital, which is why The Pew Charitable Trusts takes a comprehensive approach to ocean conservation in the Pacific region.
Our goals include securing sustainable management for tuna populations, ending illegal fishing, protecting sharks, conserving biodiversity on the high seas, and ensuring a lasting ocean legacy by safeguarding some of the most special places in the ocean.
Although there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to marine conservation, effective options are available that, with the right mix, can help create and sustain a healthy ocean.
In every region, catch limits and gear regulations are essential management tools for fisheries. Closing off large areas to commercial activities can protect biodiversity, regenerate life, maintain a healthy balance within the ecosystem, and build resilience to change.
New technologies can help fisheries managers with limited resources fight illegal fishing more effectively and monitor the health of coastal and marine ecosystems more efficiently. Equally important is the closing of loopholes in domestic and regional regulations that allow illicit fishing to go undetected and undeterred.
The economic, environmental, and food security that comes from a vibrant ocean requires strengthened fisheries management, elimination of illicit practices, and designation of new sanctuaries and marine reserves.
Pew is working with countries across the Pacific to put in place the necessary measures needed to help shape a sustainable ocean future that best secures the region’s short- and long-term needs. These are critical pieces needed to complete the ocean puzzle.