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  • By Bernadette H. Carreon

New patrol boat boosts Palau fight against illegal fishing

A new patrol boat to Palau from Nippon and Sasakawa Foundation is being hailed as a boost in the fight against illegal fishing in the island-nation. The patrol boat, PSS Kedam, also amplifies Palau’s national marine sanctuary law- a signature policy of the government that will ban commercial fishing in its 193,000 square miles of its exclusive economic zone by 2020.

The PSS Kedam is named after the Great Frigate Bird of Palau, a sea bird that is the largest bird found in Palau. “Today is a proud day for Palau, a proud day for law enforcement and the grand responsibility of safeguarding our constitutional borders surrounded by vast oceans. Today is a proud day, for the fruits of friendship and partnership between public sector and the private sector,” Palau President Tommy Remenegsu Jr. said during the handover ceremony in Palau on Tuesday.

The Nippon Foundation at a cost of over $30 million funds the new patrol boat Kedam with the grant. The 40-meter patrol boat is also part of the grant assistance from the Nippon Foundation and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation on the 10-year $70 million assistance provided by the two foundations referred to as the Support to Enhance Coast Guard Capabilities and Promote Eco-conscious Tourism in Palau.

The Nippon Foundation also provided new berth and the administration building, while the Sasakawa Peace Foundation provided capacity training and salary for the crew for 10 years. A signed memorandum of understanding in 2016 with Palau government stated that the Nippon Foundation will provide financial support to cover fuel and maintenance cost for the vessel until the end of Japanese fiscal year 2027, and for the boat until the end of Japanese fiscal year 2026.

The Sasakawa Peace Foundation will fund employment of crews to operate the medium-sized patrol vessel, including the training of those crews, which will be conducted by the Japanese partner organizations until the end of Japanese fiscal year 2027.

Before PSS Kedam, Palau only has one patrol boat- PSS H.I Remeliik, which is 31.5-meter (104ft). Remeliik is Palau’s first patrol board donated by the Australian government. PSS Remeliik is due to be replaced by Australia by 2020. Remenegsau said Kedam and Remeliik will help patrol its ocean and assist tackling the challenge of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. “We are one percent land, and 99 percent ocean. And that means, we are indeed a large ocean state, and ocean is everything to us. It is our food security, it is our economic security, it is our cultural and social security, for it is our way of life. “

“Unfortunately, we are visited by problems not of our own making, but of signs and mankind, one of them, being the challenging part of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. Today’s ceremony, activities and purpose will go a long way to assist Palau in tackling this important challenge,” he added. Palau has caught in their waters poachers from Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.

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