Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Palau Terminates Shark Sanctuary Agreement with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

japanese shark fishing
According to Island Times, Palau President Johnson Toribiong has terminated the agreement with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to assist in patrolling the island nation's waters.
(President Johnson)Toribiong wrote to Sea Shepherd president Paul Watson on May 11 to inform him of the termination.

In March, Watson offered services by Sea Shepherd to Palau for the protection of the islands' waters from illegal fishing activities.

Sea Shepherd was supposed to bring to the island its assets such as ships and helicopters at no cost for Palau government.
The Palau Shark Sanctuary was created by presidential proclamation in 2009 and closes an area of ocean about the size of France to shark fishing.  Palau and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society signed a Memorandum of Agreement in March 2011 in which Sea Shepherd would send a vessel to patrol Palau’s territorial waters against illegal fishing activity, assist the DMLE officers onboard its vessel, and facilitate prosecution of offenders to the fullest extent. The relationship between Sea Shepherd and Palau was defined as a “partnership in the preservation of marine life.”

Japan was opposed to the agreement with Sea Shepherd and offered in April to provide enforcement resources, but Island Times cites the United States as being responsible for the change in policy.
In Toribiong's letter to Watson, the president reasoned that the United States under the Compact of Free Association with Palau has the exclusive right to regulate the presence of anyone within the islands' jurisdiction.

He added that the US has expressed "concerns" about the presence of SSCS here, thus, terminating the agreement. As to what these concerns are, the president however did not elaborate.

Toribiong thanked Sea Shepherd for its offer to assist Palau in patrolling its waters at no cost for the government. "As you know, my Government shares the Society's strong belief that illegal fishing activities, particularly the finning of sharks, cannot be condoned and need to be stopped. Your Society's offer to assist Palau I am sure was made in light of that belief and, rest assured, it was certainly accepted because of our shared goals. Thank you," the president said to Watson.

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