Prominent International Personalities Support Palau Marine Sanctuary

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Queen Noor of Jordon, CNN’s Ted Turner among others applaud effort

By Jose Rodriguez T. Senase

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, Feb. 19, 2015) – Queen Noor, the widow of the late King Hussein of Jordan, and Cable News Network (CNN) founder Ted Turner are among the many prominent personalities supporting Palau’s plan to create a National Marine Sanctuary.

Noor and Turner were among eleven prominent individuals belonging to the group Ocean Elders who have written the leaders of Palau’s lawmaking bodies applauding and expressing support to the marine sanctuary plan.

Ocean Elders is a collective of leaders working with partners to protect, value, and celebrate the ocean and its wildlife.

In a letter senate President Camsek Chin, House of Delegates (HOD) Speaker Sabino Anastacio, and Senator Hokkons Baules, the Ocean Elders praised Palau’s commitment to ocean conservation. The letter was dated February 14, 2015.

Aside from Noor and Turner, the letter was also signed by Prince Albert II of Monaco, Sir Richard Branson, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Sven Lindblad, Graeme Kelleher, Captain Don Walsh, Nainoa Thompson, and Dr. Rita Colwell.

Truner is an American media mogul and philanthropist. As a businessman, he is known as founder of the cable news network CNN, the first 24-hour cable news channel.

Queen Noor of Jordan is the widow of King Hussein. She was his fourth spouse and queen consort between their marriage in 1978 and his death in 1999.

Albert II is the reigning monarch of the Principality of Monaco, and head of the Princely House of Grimaldi.

Branson is an English businessman and investor. He is best known as the founder of Virgin Group, which comprises more than 400 companies.

Walsh is an oceanographer, explorer, and former submarine captain. He is one of only two people who have ever been to the deepest part of the world ocean, the Marianas Trench.

Earle is a prominent American marine biologist, explorer, author, and lecturer.

Lindblad is Founder and President of Lindblad Expeditions. He is also the founding chair of Adventure Collection, a family of the world’s most trusted and experienced active travel companies.

Browne has written and performed some of the most literate and moving songs in popular music and has defined a genre of songwriting charged with honesty, emotion and personal politics. He was honored with induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2007.

Colwell is Distinguished University Professor both at the University of Maryland at College Park and at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Senior Advisor and Chairman Emeritus, Canon US Life Sciences, Inc., and President and CEO of CosmosID, Inc. Her interests are focused on global infectious diseases, water, and health, and she is currently developing an international network to address emerging infectious diseases and water issues, including safe drinking water for both the developed and developing world.

Thompson is currently the Executive Director of the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS). Since 1976, he has played an integral part in the design, construction, sailing, and navigating of the double-hulled voyaging canoe, Hokule’a.

Graeme Kelleher, AO was born in Australia in 1933 and was trained as a Civil Engineer. Graeme’s early career was in the structural design and construction of major civil engineering projects in Australia and Canada. He then moved into water and soils management in Australia’s Federal Government, before becoming a Commissioner on a study into the nuclear fuel cycle for the Government. The Commission determined aboriginal land ownership and defined the Kakadu National Park. He then advised the Government regarding the international proliferation of nuclear weapons.

"We, the Ocean Elders, applaud the Republic of Palau’s commitment to ocean conservation and its sustainable development aspirations with the establishment of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary as proposed in Senate Bill No. 9-30," the first part of the letter reads.

"We recognize that Palau has long been a leader in the sustainable use and conservation of marine resources; leading the Micronesia Challenge, establishing the Protected Areas Network which served as a model for the region, promoting a moratorium on bottom trawl fishing on the high seas at the UN General Assembly, and creating the world’s first shark sanctuary, triggering similar initiatives in other island nations," the letter further reads.

The group says Palau will once again set the standard for sustainable ocean stewardship when it establishes the Palau National Marine Sanctuary covering approximately 80 percent of Palauan waters.

"It is economically prudent initiative which will support Palau’s eco-tourism which depends on the conservation of the more than 1,300 species of fish and 700 species of corals found in its waters, and it will increase resilience to ocean warming and acidification," the letter states.

Additionally, according to the group, the creation of a sustainable domestic fishery zone to supply the local Palauan market will allow for the modernization of the Palauan fleet and increased opportunities for Palauan fishers.

"Palau’s establishment of a large, no-take Marine Protected Area (MPA) is a visionary initiative for the nation, the region, and the world by demonstrating its leadership and progress towards meeting the goals cited in the Convention on Biological Diversity. This will serve as a model for other nations, provide an opportunity for international partners to aid in its enforcement, and inspire other nations to follow suit," the letter concludes.

The proposal on the National Marine Sanctuary put forward by President Remengesau includes a complete prohibition on purse seine fishing that covers 100 percent of the EEZ; a no-take Marine Sanctuary that covers over 80 percent of the Palau EEZ; a highly regulated Fishing Zone that covers approximately 20 percent of the EEZ that will provide for only Palau’s domestic fishing needs; and a prohibition on commercial fish exports.

The proposal to create a Palau National Marine Sanctuary has been introduced and pending in the Senate as Senate Bill No. 9-30.

The plan is also backed by the Palau Chamber of Commerce, Council of Chiefs, the state legislatures of Ngiwal, Ngaraard, Airai, Melekeok, and Sonsorol, Governor’s Association, Belau Boaters Association, Palau Sports Fishing Association, Northern Reef Fisheries Alliance, and the speakers of 16 state legislatures.

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