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Palau Shark Sanctuary Blog

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» Killing Palau's Future - June 23, 2003
» Republic of Palau Burns Illegal Shark Fin Catch - May 9, 2003
» Palau Shark Sanctuary Fund donates to Project S.A.V.E. - March 17, 2003


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Killing Palau's Future by A Former Professional Dive Guide in Palau.

Commercial long liners continue to kill the future of sustainable tourism in Palau by destroying the very attraction that tourists and divers come to Palau to see. Sharks! Sharks are quite possibly the number one attraction for divers visiting Palau. But visitors who travel to Palau for diving are seeing less and less of these precious creatures every year. Why? Because they are being indiscriminately killed in huge numbers through a practice know as “finning” simply to satisfy demand for shark fin soup or, as its known in South East Asia, “fish wing” soup.

Unbeknownst to most Palauans, is the slaughter fest that goes on day after day in Palau's waters as your fish and sharks are being poached by these “fishing” companies for export to other countries at great profit. Disguised as “tuna boats” these vessels and their crews have only one goal and that is to catch, kill and cut the fins off every last shark in Palau. Off-loaded at sea to other vessels leaving Palau's waters, Palau's sharks most likely end up in Taipei or Hong Kong, as a prized delicacy. The few tunas and marlins they do catch and declare are but a mere “by-catch” as it is sharks they are clearly targeting.

The sight of these ramshackle, smelly, cockroach infested, killing machines freely roaming in and out of Palau's port is enough to turn away anyone, whether tourist or local, who loves and respects the ocean.

To call these shark finners “fisherman” is an insult to any true fisherman. Make no mistake; they are not fisherman but butchers who have no concern for your country, your future, your children's future or the health of the ocean. It is nothing short of pillage and plunder of Palau's resources. Despite numerous violations they are still allowed to continue with their never ending slaughtering even though they pay almost nothing to Palau in fines or permit fees.

In addition to shark finning, other destructive practices of these “poachers” in Palau's waters include catching and exporting endangered species, dumping trash in to the ocean, smashing into the reefs and dumping fuel and oil into the harbor on a regular basis.

It is time to take immediate action. These shark finning companies must be shut down and not allowed to operate in Palau's waters for the good of every man, woman and child who wants this country to have a sustainable future. The alternative is to allow them to continue to strip Palau bare of the dwindling resources that are among its' number one tourist attraction. Without sharks the delicate balance of the ocean is destroyed along with this country's ability to attract divers. Where are the conservation-minded stewards of this nation?

Let's work together to end long line fishing in Palau waters for good. Palau cannot possibly sustain the senseless destruction of its' valuable marine resources including sharks and at the same time expect to develop a healthy tourism industry for the future around those same diminishing resources. I urge you to voice your opinion to your elected officials and to support only those leaders with the vision to aggressively protect Palau's precious resources now.

Keep Palau's fish and sharks safe and protected for the Palauan people . Get rid of commercial long lining now!
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Republic of Palau Burns Illegal Shark Fin Catch

On May 6, 2003 Republic of Palau President, Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. and Minister of Justice, Michael Rosenthal set fire to a large catch of shark fins taken from a Taiwanese fishing vessel caught fishing illegally in Palau's waters.

A patrol boat from Palau's Marine Law Enforcement Division captured the Taiwanese vessel “Sheng Chi Hui #7” while it was engaged in illegally fishing for sharks in waters close to the Palau island of Angaur. Upon boarding and inspection of the licensed vessel, large numbers of steel leaders that are used to specifically target the capture of sharks, were discovered on board. The vessels holds were full of shark carcasses many of which had already had their fins removed. Authorities confiscated more than 1,600 pounds of shark fins and over 400 shark carcasses weighing in excess of 10 tons.

Outraged at the continued targeting and destruction of Palau's shark population by Taiwanese fishing fleets and the minimal fines allowed under current Palau laws, President Remengesau ordered the burning of the captured shark fins, over the objections of those who wanted them sold to generate revenue, to highlight the need for Palau Congress to improve laws protecting sharks. “Sheng Chi Hui #7” was fined less than $13,000 for a variety of offenses. Shark fins reportedly sell in Hong Kong for U.S. $180 per pound or more.

A staunch environmentalist, Remengesau told those who gathered to witness the bonfire: “Our message is very clear today: We will not tolerate shark fishing in the waters of Palau.”

Dermot Keane, Founder of Palau Shark Sanctuary Fund, and manager of a local dive business also addressed the crowd and urged them to support the passage of a declaration by the Republic of Palau to establish the waters within Palau's Exclusive Economic Zone, as a sanctuary for all sharks within.

Palau Shark Sanctuary Fund was founded in Koror, Palau on November 2001, in response to the ongoing destructive practice of “shark-finning” by foreign fishing fleets in Palau's waters. The “Fund” supports itself through sales of its private logo merchandise, donating proceeds to programs and agencies joining them in their fight to save Palau's sharks.

“Loss of Palau's sharks threatens not only Palau's underwater environment but also its entire dive industry, a mainstay of Palau's economy” Keane said. “As Palau is internationally recognized among top dive destinations in the world, it is therefore fitting that Palau takes a leadership role in the worldwide battle to end the destructive practice of shark-finning” he went on to say.

Palau Shark Sanctuary Funds goal is to achieve a declaration by the Republic of Palau, perpetually establishing all waters within Palau's Exclusive Economic Zone, as a World Shark Sanctuary offering protection to all sharks within.

Keane says he realizes that establishing a World Shark Sanctuary in Palau is a big challenge but believes it is a worthwhile goal nonetheless, and one that will benefit Palau and its economy in the years to come.
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Palau Shark Sanctuary Fund donates to Project S.A.V.E.

Palau Shark Sanctuary Fund, marking the first anniversary of its successful fundraising program, announced a donation of $350 to Project S.A.V.E. (Shark Awareness Visitor Education), a shark awareness program of the Palau Conservation Society.

Founder of Palau Shark Sanctuary Fund, Dermot Keane, made the presentation to Ms. Julie Barr, Project S.A.V.E program coordinator at Palau Conservation Society. Palau Shark Sanctuary Fund was founded in Koror, Palau on November 2001, in response to the ongoing destructive practice of “shark-finning” by foreign fishing fleets in Palau's waters. The “Fund” supports itself through sales of its private logo merchandise, donating proceeds to programs and agencies joining them in their fight to save Palau's sharks.

“Loss of Palau's sharks threatens not only Palau's underwater environment but also its entire dive industry, a mainstay of Palau's economy” Keane said. “As Palau is internationally recognized among top dive destinations in the world, it is therefore fitting that Palau takes a leadership role in the worldwide battle to end the destructive practice of shark-finning” he went on to say.

Palau Shark Sanctuary Funds goal is to achieve a declaration by the Republic of Palau, perpetually establishing all waters within Palau's Exclusive Economic Zone, as a World Shark Sanctuary offering protection to all sharks within.

Keane says he realizes that establishing a World Shark Sanctuary in Palau is a big challenge but believes it is a worthwhile goal nonetheless, that will benefit Palau and its economy in the years to come.
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