Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Palau Creates One of the World's Largest Marine Sanctuaries

Palau Creates One of the World's Largest Marine Sanctuaries

Earthjustice applauds the creation of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary, signed into law today by President Tommy Remengesau, establishing one of the world’s largest marine protected areas.

“This bold action to protect the full sweep of the country’s valuable ocean resources affirms that Palau is a world leader in marine conservation,” said Drew Caputo, Earthjustice vice president of Litigation for Lands, Wildlife and Oceans. “No other country has done more.”

Damselfish swim in shallow water in Palau's inner lagoon. The precedent-setting Palau marine protected area shows that small island states can be global conservation leaders. Photo credit: Ethan Daniels / Shutterstock

The law designates 80 percent of the nation’s exclusive economic zone—an area bigger than the state of California—as a no-take marine reserve, and the remaining 20 percent as a managed domestic fishing zone for local fishers to supply the national market and ensure food security for Palau now and into the future.

Palau’s marine ecosystems are some of the most diverse on Earth, home to more than 700 species of coral and 1,300 species of fish. Globally, oceans are threatened by over-fishing, pollution, warming and acidification. Large, no-take marine reserves are crucial to efforts to build marine resilience to climate change by allowing fish stocks to rebound and reducing by-catch of species that are critical to ocean health.

Earthjustice was privileged to provide legal support to the government of Palau, advising on the legal requirements under ocean treaties and fisheries access agreements to which Palau is a party, and the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Act.

“The sanctuary is a major contribution to healthy oceans and reef systems that are more resilient to climate change, both for the people of Palau and for the world,” said Earthjustice international program attorney, Erika Rosenthal. “Ocean biomass conservation—through fisheries conservation and management and marine protected areas—is critical to maintaining the ocean’s function as an effective carbon sink.”

The precedent-setting Palau marine protected area shows that small island states, often called large ocean nations, can be global conservation leaders, and make major contribution to the international targets for marine protected areas established under the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Support for the sanctuary was strong across the island from governors to traditional leaders to thousands of Palauans who demonstrated and signed petitions. Palau has long been a leader in ocean conservation. The nation established the first shark sanctuary in the region in 2001 and was a leader in the Micronesia Challenge, designating a near-shore network of protected areas starting in 2003.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Acclaimed Mermaid Delivers Strong Message to Chicken of the Sea

Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue II + TED = Ideas to Tackle World’s Most Pressing Ocean Issues

Climate Change ‘A Serious Threat’ to King Penguins, Study Warns

It’s Official: Jon and Tracey Stewart Convert 12-Acre Farm to Animal Sanctuary

Plastic bails, left, and aluminum bails, right, are photographed at the Green Waste material recovery facility on Thursday, March 28, 2019, in San Jose, California. Aric Crabb / Digital First Media / Bay Area News via Getty Images

By Courtney Lindwall

Coined in the 1970s, the classic Earth Day mantra "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" has encouraged consumers to take stock of the materials they buy, use, and often quickly pitch — all in the name of curbing pollution and saving the earth's resources. Most of us listened, or lord knows we tried. We've carried totes and refused straws and dutifully rinsed yogurt cartons before placing them in the appropriately marked bins. And yet, nearly half a century later, the United States still produces more than 35 million tons of plastic annually, and sends more and more of it into our oceans, lakes, soils, and bodies.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Rise and Resist activist group marched together to demand climate and racial justice. Steve Sanchez / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Alexandria Villaseñor

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

My journey to becoming an activist began in late 2018. During a trip to California to visit family, the Camp Fire broke out. At the time, it was the most devastating and destructive wildfire in California history. Thousands of acres and structures burned, and many lives were lost. Since then, California's wildfires have accelerated: This past year, we saw the first-ever "gigafire," and by the end of 2020, more than four million acres had burned.

Read More Show Less
Trending
U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced a pair of climate-related secretarial orders on Friday, April 16. U.S. Department of the Interior

By Jessica Corbett

As the Biden administration reviews the U.S. government's federal fossil fuels program and faces pressure to block any new dirty energy development, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland won praise from environmentalists on Friday for issuing a pair of climate-related secretarial orders.

Read More Show Less
David Attenborough narrates "The Year Earth Changed," premiering globally April 16 on Apple TV+. Apple

Next week marks the second Earth Day of the coronavirus pandemic. While a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions has limited our ability to explore the natural world and gather with others for its defense, it is still possible to experience the wonder and inspiration from the safety of your home.

Read More Show Less

By Michael Svoboda

For April's bookshelf we take a cue from Earth Day and step back to look at the bigger picture. It wasn't climate change that motivated people to attend the teach-ins and protests that marked that first observance in 1970; it was pollution, the destruction of wild lands and habitats, and the consequent deaths of species.

Read More Show Less