Palau Is burning illegal fishing boats to protect ecotourism

Palau has started to take extreme measures to protect its marine resources. Recently the island’s president ordered its one police boat to first tow four Vietnamese fishing boats out to sea, and then to set them on fire. The boats has been caught fishing in the island nation’s waters, which it closed in March 2014 to all commercial fishing as part of a move to protect 230,000 square miles of ocean and create one the world’s largest marine sanctuaries. before burning the boats the crew were released, although the captains were taken into custody and face up to $1m in fines.

“Palau is simply no longer an option when it comes to poaching,” president Remengesau said. “This message goes to the captain and crews of these vessels. Palau guarantees you will return with nothing. Captains will be prosecuted and jailed. Boats will be burned. Nothing will be gained from poaching in Palau. From one fisherman to another, respect Palau.”

In Brief
  • Before the ban, commercial fishing was worth $5m annually or 3.3% of Palau’s GDP.
  • Since establishing the sanctuary, Palau police have captured 15 Vietnamese fishing boats in its territorial waters.
  • Indiscriminate fishing practices often catch sharks as bycatch, damaging Palau’s main revenue earner its $85m dive tourism industry
  • A 2010 Australian study calculated that shark divers bring Palau $18m per year, with each swimming shark worth $1.9m in diving and tourism.
In Depth
Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith is the editor and co-founder of Travindy. He is a writer and communications consultant working for a more responsible and sustainable tourism industry. He is the author of two books, writes a fortnightly blog on responsible tourism for World Travel Market, and provides consultancy to a wide range of companies and organisations, ranging from National Parks to individual hotels and tour operators.

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