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Insatiable market threatens Palau reefs

By Philip N. Haruo

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, May 13, 2008) –With a stroke of his pen, President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. has put a stop to the export of live reef fish yesterday in Bai Mengellakl, Ngarchelong.

[PIR editor’s note: Ngarchelong State is located on the northernmost tip of Babeldaob, the largest island in Palau. ]

Remengesau signed into law Senate Bill No. 7-213,SD1,HD7,CD1 – a bill introduced by Senator Alan Seid to increase the maximum loan amount extendable by the Palau National Development Bank – to which House Bill 7-197-33S, a bill to prohibit and provide penalties for the export of live reef fish from Palau, was attached to as a rider.

A rider, in legislative practice, is an additional provision that is added to a bill under consideration of the legislature. The additional provision usually has little or no connection to the subject matter of the bill being considered. Legislators use riders to pass controversial provisions, which would not pass if introduced as bills; or to prevent passage of a bill being considered.

House Bill 7-197-33S became law as Remengesau signed Senate Bill No. 7-213,SD1,HD7,CD1 into law.

The new law, Republic of Palau Public Law No. 7-44, mandates the Palau National Development Bank to increase its maximum loan amount extendable; and subsequently, has banned the export of live reef fish.

The rider was introduced, at the request of Remengesau, as a result of many controversial fishery and environmental issues, which developed in the Northern Reefs, which prompted the leaders and people of the states of Ngarchelong and Kayangel to seek help from the national government for resolutions of the issues.

Before signing the Senate bill into law, Remengesau noted, "riders are usually not good as they would not allow us ample time to review their essence; however, this is one of those rare moments where no further inquiries are necessary to understand the importance of this particular rider."

Remengesau said, as he had previously indicated in an earlier letter to members of the Olbiil Er a Kelulau that the live fish export businesses feed an "insatiable market" in other countries, which – if prolonged – "will eventually lead to the destruction of our reef habitats."

Moreover, Remengesau added that the rider compliments the efforts that the people of Ngarchelong have undertaken since 1994 to look for ways to ensure that the Northern Reefs and its resources are protected and used in a sustainable manner.

In addition, he commended everyone involved in the Ngarchelong Leaders Summit for his or her relentless effort to keep Palau as pristine and as environmentally healthy; and for committing to ensure that it stays that way for generations to come.

Marianas Variety:

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