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Palau’s heralded marine sanctuary faces reassessment from next leaders

Palau’s  National Marine Sanctuary— which is hailed as the tiny nation’s  much celebrated signature policy—may face review from President Tommy Remengesau Jr’s successor.

More than five years in the making, Palau’s marine sanctuary law took effect on January 1 this year. It closed 80% of Palau’s exclusive economic zone to commercial fishing, a monumental policy for a tiny island nation with a population of 18,000.

The sanctuary however is at the centre of election debate, with presidential candidates Surangel Whipps Jr. and Raynold Oilouch saying during their campaign sorties that they are considering reassessing the PNMS, to ensure Palau’s people get the best benefits out of it.

Presidential candidate Surangel Whipps Jr. believes that the PNMS policy is a good one, telling the National Environment Symposium  in late September that he supports the marine sanctuary. However he believes there are things  in the policy that can be refined and amended to give more opportunities for Palauan fisherman to fish.

His rival for the Presidency in November, current Vice President, Raynold Oilouch said he is not in favour of abolishing the PNMS, but if he sees  problems with the sanctuary,  then it should be reviewed to ensure that the law will be improved.

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