Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Dive Industry Supports Palau Marine Sanctuary


Dive industry stakeholders from 34 countries launched today a call to action for governments and international treaties to address threats to the world´s oceans faster and more efficiently in order to safeguard this multibillion-dollar industry from the effects of an impoverished marine environment.

The Letter from Palau – Dive Industry Declaration on Marine Conservation, presented first-hand by the signatories to the Hon. F. Umiich Sengebau, Minister for Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism of Palau, praises the leadership that this Pacific island nation has sustained on marine conservation issues, but at the same time calls attention to the grave threats faced by marine ecosystems worldwide, which endanger the dive industry and the livelihoods of those who depend upon it. Palau´s President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. has announced his intention to make 80% of its Exclusive Economic Zone off-limits to industrial fishing in order to boost profits from a growing diving industry in the country, and also to add value to the concession of sustainable tuna fishing permits in the remaining 20%.

José Truda Palazzo, Jr. (right), on behalf of the dive industry signatories, presents the Letter from Palau to the Hon. F. Umiich Sengebau, Minister for Natural Resources, Enviroment and Tourism of the Republic of Palau. Credit: Divers for Sharks.
In particular the Declaration requests that governments and treaties urgently put an end to overfishing and the rampant killing of endangered marine life (such as sharks, turtles and seabirds) by industrial fisheries, which continue to be heavily subsidized despite being clearly unsustainable; work towards creating and implementing further no-take Marine Protected Areas, with a view of achieving 30% of all oceans fully protected; and finalize a binding agreement on climate change in the next few months, capable of halting global warming and ocean acidification which threaten to wipe out the world´s coral reefs in the next few decades and cause irreversible damage to ocean life webs.

According to José Truda Palazzo, Jr., CEO of the marine policy consulting firm Truda Palazzo & Associates and co-founder of Divers for Sharks, a global dive businesses initiative which promoted the Declaration, “the dive industry, its millions of customers and professionals around the world are increasingly alarmed by the degree of ocean degradation that is being witnessed by divers, impacting the very basis of our activity and threatening to put entire coastal communities out of work. Dive sites with degraded coral reefs and devoid of sharks and other fish are a disaster for our industry, and this is what overfishing and climate change are leaving behind. It´s time for policymakers around the world to follow the leadership of Palau in its bold steps towards protecting most of its marine jurisdiction from predatory industrial fishing, taking account of the thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue created by non-extractive uses of the oceans, such as diving, and safeguarding such uses accordingly”.

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