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President to petition Japan, Taiwan governments

By Bernadette H. Carreon KOROR (Palau Horizon, Oct. 5, 2009) - The Senate on Tuesday killed the measure which calls for the repeal of the existing law which prohibits commercial fishing of sharks within Palau’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The bill was tabled and action will no longer be taken on it.

The death of the controversial Senate Bill 8-44, came after President Johnson Toribiong declared Palau’s EEZ as shark sanctuary before his address at the United Nations General Assembly.

The bill was tackled up to second reading but members of the Senate Committee on Resources. Commerce, Trade and Development stated in its committee report that "it’s highly risky to potentially endanger Palau’s environment in the way this Bill proposes."

The committee report further added that since Palau does not have the sufficient capacity to monitor its EEZ, "thus any loosening of Palau’s anti-shark fishing laws would open the door to potential abuse by commercial fishing companies, which would seriously harm the fragile shark population in this region. Based these facts, the Committee cannot endorse this bill."

The committee also stated that there was an overwhelming number of people attended an earlier forum that did not support or endorse the legislation.

"Based on the foregoing, the Committee recommends, pursuant to its authority under Senate Rules and Procedure 6 (a), that Senate Bill No. 8-44 be tabled, and that the Senate takes no further action on it," the report said.

President Toribiong on Monday night upon return from New York was welcomed at the Palau International Airport by supporters of efforts to declare Palau as a shark sanctuary

During the President’s press conference Wednesday morning, Palau Visitor’s Authority Chairperson Vicki Maui, BTA President M Mary Frances Vogt and Chamber President Francis Remengesau, representing the three entities of the Tri-Org alliance, presented a congratulatory message to the president for his declaration for Palau to be the world’s first Shark Sanctuary, calling an end to all commercial fishing to sharks within Palau’s EEZ.

In an interview the president said although there is only one patrol boat at Palau’s disposal, he is calling other nations to respect his efforts.

He said that he will be sending letters to the Taiwan and Japan governments to respect Palau’s EEZ.

"Technically we all have the laws, the declaration elevated the legal prohibition," the president said.

He added that this is the first step and he is hopeful that the effort will spring into cooperation from other nations.

"The world is now watching Palau, we will follow it through all the way and we will impose the law in the full maximum," Toribiong said.

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