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By Nazario Rodriguez Jr.

KOROR (Palau Horizon, April 13) – The Palau national government has signed a memorandum of agreement with three foreign fishing companies operating in the country.

The agreement will implement regulations that can generate more income for Palau.

The regulations include a 50 percent increase in licensing fees, the expansion of the no fishing zone, the ban on shark fining, and the requirement that vessels return within 30 days.

The newly signed fishing access agreement on tuna for sashimi market will generate direct and indirect revenues for Palau, according to Minister of Resources and Development Fritz Koshiba.

Koshiba signed the agreement on behalf of the government while Marcelo Pierantozzi signed for Palau International Traders Inc.; Hisae Kuniyoshi for Kuniyoshi Fishing Cos.; and Danilo Celis for Palau Marine Industries Corp.

This concluded a month-long negotiation between the parties.

The agreement, according to the government, will raise some US$1.3 million from direct taxes and other fees.

This amount does not include indirect revenue from the purchase of supplies needed by the fishing vessels like fuel and other provisions.

The US$3,000 license fee for a 50-ton vessel is now US$4,500.

The agreement also expanded the no fishing zone from 12 to 24 nautical miles and incorporates the ban on shark fining.

The requirement that vessels should return from the shores within 30 days intends to prevent them from bringing catch outside of Palau, which is an illegal practice that has long been suspected to be prevalent.

The agreement states that if caught violating this requirement, a vessel will have to pay a US$50,000 bond before it will be released.

April 14, 2006

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