Palau to ban commercial fishing, promote tourism
By AP News Feb 05, 2014
The president of Palau declared Tuesday that his Pacific island nation will ban commercial fishing and become a marine sanctuary.
President Tommy Remengesau Jr. said in a keynote address to a U.N. meeting on “Healthy Oceans and Seas” that once current fishing contracts with Japan, Taiwan and some private companies expire only fishing by island residents and tourists will be allowed in its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.
Remengesau said establishing “a 100 percent marine sanctuary” will enable Palau to preserve “a pristine environment” and promote snorkeling, scuba diving and ecotourism as an alternative way to grow its economy.
“It will make a difference if it’s just a matter of feeding ourselves and feeding the tourists,” he told a news conference. “As it is right now, we’re feeding the tourist and ourselves plus millions of people outside the territory.”
Palau’s population of about 20,000 people is spread across 250 islands. It shares maritime boundaries with Indonesia, the Philippines, and Micronesia.
The country announced in 2009 it was creating the world’s first shark sanctuary by banning all commercial shark fishing in its territorial waters. It has also adopted the most restrictive law against bottom trawling. In 2012, its Rock Islands Southern Lagoon was named a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Remengesau, a fisherman, said he has seen fish stocks dwindle and the size of fish grow smaller around his island nation.
With a marine sanctuary, he said, “we will do our part of making sure that there’s a healthy stock of fish in Palau that then can migrate to other places.”
Remengesau said snorkelers and scuba divers come to Palau to see sharks, which can live up to 100 years.
According to a study, he said a live shark is worth $1.9 million as a tourist attraction compared to a dead shark which is worth several hundred dollars for its fins for shark fin soup, which is an Asian delicacy.
To enforce the ban on commercial fishing, Remengesau said Palau is working with potential partners to obtain radar equipment and drones to monitor its waters.
Remengesau said climate change and global warming have been having a serious impact.
“For us in Palau and the Pacific islands, there’s been a tremendous amount of what we call unpredictable weather patterns that brings typhoons and storms and all kinds of destructive forces to the islands,” he said. “We have other problems of sea level rises.”
Palau is also urging the United Nations to adopt a new goal to clean up the world’s oceans, restore fish stocks and bring some equity to resources being taken by others.
Remengesau said “the fishing revenue has been breadcrumbs — it’s been nothing compared to, or in fairness to the billion dollar industry that this whole fishing industry is.”
Our Blue 2.0 by The Tank Bangers
Because everybody needs a little oceaninspiration on a Monday.
The new Green Fins site is launched!
We’ve waited a long time for this! Finally the site looks like an actual website. Additionally, you can also see the top environmentally friendly dive centres in Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Maldives, a list that will change as we continue to do assessments of member dive centres.
For those of you diving or snorkelling, check out how you can do your bit, and choose from a list of members that are all working towards reducing their environmental impacts both in and out of the water.
There’s also a bunch of free downloads in the Tools and Resources section :)
Become a better scuba diver, learn to control your buoyancy. DIVE.in gives you the best tips and tricks for great buoyancy control
For those of you who ask about becoming better divers, there are loads of online tips and tricks, but like the article says, it’s all about practice at the end of the day.
Diving is so much fun! I kind of look at it like driving. You get good enough to pass your test, but you become a good driver through experience. Don’t stop trying to learn, even once you have your qualification. Watch what other divers, dive masters and instructors do, how they dive and try different things so you develop a diving style you’re comfortable with. Some general tips:
1. Dive with respect for the animals and the environment.
Don’t harass marine life, or treat coral like a stepping stone. Unless it’s a safety issue, you don’t want to be touching anything underwater.
2. Develop good buoyancy.
Buoyancy is how you control where you are in the water column. You can adjust this with weights and air in your BCD, but good divers can control their buoyancy with their breathing. This takes practice. You have to actively try to improve.
3. Learn your dive gear
Unfortunately we’re not marine animals anymore, and your dive gear is your life saver. Know what each of the equipment does for you. You are taught it in your courses but if you don’t dive regularly it’s easy to forget. Make sure your hoses are tucked in, so they don’t drag along the bottom causing damage to the substrate and your expensive gear!
That’s it for starters! Good luck, hope you enjoy it!
Malaysia- Sipadan Island (von *YIP*)
Mecca. Made the pilgrimage in 2009!
Sorry I haven’t been posting much original material lately… my time has been enveloped by Zoox and Green Fins work (as jobs tend to do) over the last few months, and as always it has been incredibly rewarding.
A highlight was a project of one the Zoox volunteers who managed to pull together a week of clean ups around various dive sites and beaches around Puerto Galera, Philippines.
In total, 205 people participated over the week, and we managed to collect a whopping 953.5 kg of rubbish and throw in a whole load of local community awareness about marine debris.
Organizing a clean up is much more than meets the eye, especially if you want to count what you have collected, or are trying to organize various people or town garbage trucks to meet you at a certain time. But it doesn’t have to be a big event. Take a picnic at a beach with friends, and after you clean up your mess, go and pick up the rest and see what the weirdest thing you can find is.
On one dive this week, I found everything I would need for for my own picnic including a rug, umbrella, crockery, cutlery and beer (a bit salty but so was the rest!). It’s unbelievable what finds it’s way into the ocean, but when you are faced with the reality of it being right there in front of you, it helps reinforce actions when you are dry again.
It’s thought that 80% of the trash in the ocean comes from land. And that’s not just beach-side communities, thats you and me, and family and friends. Let’s start there, with what we can easily change, and hopefully we can inspire others to start making a difference too.
I always imagine juvenile Sweetlips are on uppers… and totally off their faces! I’ll post an example next.
Damselfish are very territorial, and will nip at you despite being a fraction of your size…bad ass mofos.
Batfish are curious, swimming in large cautious circles around you on a dive. I imagine them thinking “What are you, you crazy bubble making being”.
Crabs are always like “Uh-oh, you spotted me.” then they raise their claws like “I can take you, you know”.
Turtles can be incredible graceful, but when they start bulldozing onto the reef, or you, it’s like they are operating heavy machinery under the influence!
Moray eels are totally chilled out, moving their jaws open and closed to ventilate, but it can seem like they are just talking to themselves.
Great question - there are so many personalities on the reef!
Mating Nudibranches (Roboastra luteolineata) SMURF PENIS
On a recent dive, we stumbled upon a rather private moment between a couple of simultaneous hermaphrodites, Roboastra luteolineata, doing the mutual penis dance. They were poking around for a while, and had yet to manage mutual fertilization when we (reluctantly) moved on.
Some of you might have found, that after a hundred dives or more, that although you still enjoy reefs, or fish, or the ‘prettiness’ of being underwater, that other aspects of the marine world take your fancy. I have zoomed in on macro life, and relish the challenge of finding tiny critters on a sandy bottom. And for the things that are a bit bigger, behaviour starts to catch your eye…
…who am I kidding? It’s all about the smurf penis.
Asian Dive Expo (ADEX) 2013 - All about whale sharks
Last weekend, I crossed a major event off my bucket list. Speaking at ADEX.
Every year of my adult life that I spent in Singapore, I went to ADEX. It’s a big space, full of diving goodies, underwater photos and brilliant people. I would go with dive buddies/best friends to network, get stickers to decorate my laptop and anything else, and just generally revel in the world of people who love being underwater.
I have genuinely missed it the last couple of years. But not 2013. With the theme of whale sharks, it was a perfect platform for the NGO I worked for last year to talk about whale shark research. Myself, the President of the NGO and bonafide big brother Dr. Alessandro Ponzo, and my favourite conservation photographer Steve De Neef were invited to give talks and participate in ‘The Big Blue Buzz’ - a “debate” about animals on display.
The “debate” wasn’t really that, two teams, that were actually far from opposite. We are all working towards the same goals, but represent a gradient of how to do it. At least the subjects of animals on display like captive dolphins, and the whale sharks being fed in Oslob were talked about, and I hope that we made a few people think about their decision, and research into what they are actually supporting and making an educated decision. Still, there were some strong personalities in the debate, and I wish we’d had time to say a bit more.
In fact, that’s pretty much the over-arching theme of my presentation - “Whale Sharks and Tourism - Finding the Balance”. Who doesn’t want to swim with a whale shark? However, we have to recognize that by being in the water we are affecting them. The whale shark code of conduct has been developed so you don’t scare them off, but studies show certain actions of ours cause them to exhibit avoidance behaviours (Quiros 2007). When we talk about tourism, we need to remember the multiplier effect. One shark cutting an interaction short might not seem like a lot. But what if it’s several times a day, every day. If they are there to feed at the surface, what’s the effect of driving them away? If they avoid certain areas because of tourists, what’s the effect on migration patterns. And this is all without feeding them.
I also touched on the issue of the controversial feeding practices in Oslob, Cebu. But that is a whole other post, for another time.
I hope that at least one person walked away thinking that they should do their own research before booking a holiday. To educate themselves, and make informed choices. I want people to start taking responsibility for their tourism, and not to assume that any and all wildlife tourism or nature tourism is “ecotourism”. It has a strict definition, and if you really want to support ecotourism, you need to do your research.
Passionate issues aside, I met up with old friends and mentors, met so many new and amazing people and long-time heros of mine. I manage to eat some of the amazing Singaporean food I have missed, and escape the heat of Philippine summer which might be the end of me. It was one of my best weekends ever.