By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The United States has signed a memorandum of understanding with Palau to strengthen the conservation and management of marine protected areas in the Pacific islands region, the U.S. State Department announced.
The MOU also established a sister site agreement between the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa and the Palau National Marine Sanctuary, as well as a framework for broader Indo-Pacific regional cooperation on MPA issues, according to a statement from the Office of the Spokesperson.
The new partnership with Palau is a component of the United States' commitment package pledged at the Our Ocean Conference 2022 held in Koror on April 13 and 14. The U.S. and Palau co=hosted the conference.
"The United States is committed to Indigenous-led conservation. Tribal and Indigenous communities have been the original stewards of land, waters, and wildlife since time immemorial," the department said in a statement.
"Many of the major milestones in protecting ocean areas under the jurisdiction of the United States resulted from the leadership of tribes and indigenous communities."
The U.S. also initiated three national marine sanctuary designations, including the proposed Chumash Heritage NMS, the proposed Lake Ontario NMS, and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.
The State Department said the U.S. will launch a working group to evaluate naming practices for existing and future marine national monuments and national marine sanctuaries, with particular emphasis on the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.