Palau Announces Massive Marine Sanctuary

  •  nagoya, japan
  • Inter Press Service

'We urge other nations to join our efforts to protect whales, dolphins and other marine animals,' Fritz said at a press conference during Oceans Day at the meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan. Japan has long sought to overturn the global ban on commercial whaling and has actively solicited and received Palau's support for many years. Japan is its second largest source of development aid after the United States. Japanese tourists frequent the islands since many people speak some Japanese.

'Palau now supports conserving marine mammals, along with sharks and other species,' said Susan Lieberman, director of international policy for the Pew Environment Group, a large U.S. NGO. 'This is a very significant announcement,' Lieberman told IPS. 'Japan remains our very good friend, and we would like to work in harmony to achieve what we both want,' said Fritz.

One of the world's smallest nations, with 22,000 people, Palau is an island in the Pacific Ocean, some 800 kms east of the Philippines and 3,200 kms south of Tokyo. Japan occupied Palau after World War I and Japanese immigration was encouraged until World War II when the U.S. occupied the region.

A year ago at the United Nations General Assembly, Palau's President Johnson Toribiong announced that the waters in its economic zone, about the size of France, would be a shark sanctuary. Scientists have said about half of the world's oceanic sharks are at risk of extinction, mainly due to the practice of catching them for their fins.

© Inter Press Service (2010) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service