After establishing the first shark sanctuary on the planet, the Republic of Palau creates Spain-sized marine sanctuary in the Pacific. According to an announcement made Wednesday, fishing would be banned from the tiny island nation’s waters.
The move was designed to preserve the ocean and its biodiversity for the generations to come. The new national sanctuary is 193,000-squae-mile-wide and hosts about 1,300 different fish species and 700 species of coral, making it one of the largest on the globe.
The country’s president Tommy Remengesau explained that the huge sanctuary which covers 80 percent of the country’s maritime waters is designed to buy some time to the ocean to heal after so many years of overfishing.
“A small island nation can have a big impact on the ocean,”
Mr. Remengesau added.
On Wednesday, he signed off the final papers to open the natural preserve. Palau president also argued that the move was crucial for the future of his country since overfishing and pollution hit small states the hardest. By creating the sanctuary, Palau residents agree that the move is essential to their survival, Mr. Remengesau also said.
The Republic of Palau has a population of 18,000 and spans over an archipelago in the west Pacific. The sanctuary would be completed in five years’ time when no commercial fishing vessel would be allowed to fish in the republic’s waters. Nevertheless, local fishermen and coastal communities will be able to fish in designated areas, authorities added.
The move is also aimed at encouraging tourism in the islands. For Palau, tourism generates more than $160 million every year which is half of the country’s GDP. Tuna industry, on the other hand, contributes to the country’s economy with just $5.5 million annually.
Palau created another sanctuary six years ago, trying to protect threatened sharks. Ever since, more than 30 percent of world’s countries opened similar shark sanctuaries. Sharks are threatened worldwide because of reckless hunting caused by high demand for shark fin soup.
In the Pacific other island nations are now trying to preserve natural ecosystems. The countries struggle to create a vast network of marine sanctuaries to safeguard the world’s last pristine marine environments. Authorities in these countries also plan to find new ways to manage the areas sustainably.
Three years ago, the archipelago nation of Cook Islands created a 411 million square mile marine sanctuary. And Tokelau and Kiribati also followed suit. In September, New Zealand pledged to open a France-sized ocean sanctuary by next year.
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