Palau President Tommy Remengesau declares marine sanctuary, bans all commercial fishing
Photo: Two clown fish swim around their anemone at the The Big Drop Off at Ngemelis Island, Palau. (AAP: David Barbeler, file photo)
"Palau's President Tommy Remengesau has declared the Pacific nation will become a marine sanctuary, where no commercial fishing will take place.Mr Remengesau has told a UN oceans conference Palau's 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone will be a "100 per cent marine sanctuary", and commercial operations will be banned within the Pacific nation's territorial waters.
"We have no choice - the ocean is our way of life," he said.
"It's our livelihood, it's our culture, it's our economy - I always say the economy is our environment and the environment is our economy."
"You may ask why, why are you doing this? It makes every sense for our sustainability as a people, as an island nation, and as a community."
Palau currently has commercial fishing contracts with Japan, Taiwan and several private companies, which will be allowed to expire.
Mr Remengesau says locals and tourists will continue to be able to fish, but no commercial scale operations will take place.
"I may not be the best fisherman, but I am a fisherman," he said.
"I can tell you that in just my generation I've seen stocks of fish dwindle down, I've seen the sizes of fish taken become more smaller.
"This is something that is far more than the economical loss of revenues for companies or other countries - you're talking about a livelihood that's really going to be decimated if we don't take the responsible action."
RETRIEVED FROM ABC NEWS 5:34 pm 2/5/14