In a recent decision, the island nation of Palau has banned fishing in a sizable area of its waters, hoping that protecting marine life will help save fish species and also attract sustainable tourists to boost revenues.
The new pacific marine sanctuary in Palau will be one of the world’s largest, measuring around 500,000 square kilometers. Palau has long faced the challenge of overfishing in its ocean, as fishing is a source of income for locals. Populations of yellowfin and bigeye tuna are in need of recovery. Furthermore, fishing vessels negatively impact marine life through waste, significantly affecting coral growth. Palau’s decision to ban fishing in what is now one considered of the largest marine sanctuaries will help its goal of protecting and restoring its ocean.
Palau officials hope that the new sanctuary will help promote sustainable tourism, bringing in additional revenues from Palau’s tourism industry and creating a visibly different experience for divers, swimmers, and snorkelers. Palau’s diving product, an immensely popular activity in Palau that contributes to nearly 40% of the island’s economy, will increase in quality, supporting premium pricing and thus bringing in more revenue.
Palau officials are hoping sustainable tourism, often considered a higher-end tourism product, will offset revenue loss from decreased fishing activities in the area, and that is where they believe Palau’s future lies as it strives to protect its natural environment yet increase island revenues. Meanwhile, in other areas of the island where fishing has been banned, fish populations are growing. The marine sanctuary will be implemented over the next five years.
Photo Credit: “Palau 2008030818 4709 (2347767520)” by LuxTonnerre from Munich, Germany – Palau_2008030818_4709. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Palau_2008030818_4709_(2347767520).jpg#/media/File:Palau_2008030818_4709_(2347767520).jpg
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