HUGE Marine Reserve Planned for Palau

Source: Republic of Palau National Government (

Some cool news out of the western Pacific: Palau has set aside 193,000 square miles of ocean to create one of the world’s largest protected marine areas. On Thursday, National Geographic wrote an article  on the tiny island nation’s big commitment to marine conservation, saying that 80% of its waters will be off-limits to any extractive activities like fishing and mining, while the other 20% will be open to local fishing as well as a limited number of small commercial fishers. This is great news for such a biodiverse part of the ocean, but as with any reserve or natural protected area, its efficacy depends on how well the plan is enforced. Large swaths of the ocean are especially difficult to patrol and police, so hopefully Palau will be able to maintain an effective marine reserve that cracks down on poaching so that it can yield an increase in fish stocks and a robust ecosystem.  As difficult as it may be to actively enforce a marine reserve, Palau has a history of showing that it is serious about fishing restrictions. Earlier this year, National Geographic also reported that officials from Palau captured and burned a cluster of Vietnamese fishing vessels that did not have permission to fish in Palau waters, before incarcerating the ship’s captain and sending the remaining crew back to Vietnam. We will see how the new mega reserve fairs in the face of those still hungry for marine resources, but for now we can at least celebrate one nation’s recognition and dedication to nurturing the health of our ocean.



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