Another continuing practice, despite Palau's tough laws and at one point tough enforcement that now seems to have been watered down or ceased altogether following the departure of attorney Christopher Hale of the Attorney Generals office, is the issue of shark finning. It was headline news in Palau for quite some time a few years ago but more recently seems to have faded away. At least the attention to this issue has faded but by all reports, the killing of sharks and taking of shark fins is very much alive and strong throughout both legal and illegal fishing fleets operating in Palau. With few exceptions, almost every foreign fishing vessel that was thoroughly searched by Palau law enforcement produced illegal catches including shark fins. It's almost guaranteed to be the same today. But apparently searches seem to be few and far between or simply not thorough enough. Shark fins are being stowed in hidden compartments underneath tuna holds and other areas of the vessels. Fleets are meeting offshore to unload their illegal catches. And all the while, Palau seems to do nothing to shut down illegal fishing in its' waters.
Recently, President Remengesau proposed that Palau pass legislation banning the export of all highly migratory fish from Palau. This could be a start, but there's sure to be a big political fight and even if it were to pass, its' not intended to take effect for several years. By then it won't even matter as the cupboard will already be bare! It's also election year in Palau and as in any election anywhere, there are bound to be powerful and influential financial forces at work.
Despite the damage and destruction they bring, foreign fishing fleets continue to operate in Palau because powerful and influential Palauans ensure they do so and profit accordingly. Palau's international "friendships" with the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan are perhaps another reason that Palau seems to turn a blind eye to the rape and pillage of it's natural resources. As a tiny island nation with limited financial resources, Palau is dependent on foreign aid and assistance from Taiwan, Japan, USA and others in almost every area including government subsidies, capital projects including roads and bridges, power, water and sewer, national health, education, maritime law enforcement, national defense and more. Palau must ask itself if the short term gains to be made by turning a blind eye to impact of foreign fishing fleets are truly worth the long term destruction of Palau's natural resources.