Friday, April 1, 2011

An Historic Agreement between Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and The Republic of Palau

(Images copyright Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)

Finally, after what has been a rather lengthy drum-roll (as pointed out by a good friend)….. I am very pleased to announce the signing of an historic agreement between Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and The Republic of Palau, that will significantly improve and expand Palau’s capabilities to patrol and protect its’ shark sanctuary from illegal fishing. 

I am also very pleased and humbled that Palau Shark Sanctuary, the one-man shark conservation organization I founded in 2001 on a mission to convince Palau to declare its’ EEZ a shark sanctuary, was able to play a significant role in brokering this historic agreement between Sea Shepherd and Palau, in yet another huge step closer to giving true meaning and real life to Palau’s sanctuary.

 (Images copyright Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)

I heartily congratulate and deeply commend President Toribiong of Palau and Captain Paul Watson and CEO Steve Roest of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society on this exciting occasion for marine conservation.  

I also express my sincere appreciation to Palau’s Council of Chiefs, Ministers, Attorney’s General and other officials who helped guide, assist and craft this landmark agreement. Likewise, many thanks are due to Ms. Kim Mc Coy, Director of Legal Affairs at Sea Shepherd for her prompt and productive efforts in helping finalize the agreement. Congratulations and thanks to all! 

Video Link:     
Interview with President Toribiong, Sea Shepherd and Palau Shark Sanctuary. Courtesy OTV Palau. 

Immediately below:   Press Releases and other links.

For immediate release
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society supports Palau in protection of marine sanctuary and law enforcement
Sea Shepherd to send one of its vessels to patrol the territorial waters of Palau

Koror, Palau, March 31, 2001 - The support of a high-tech vessel will have a significant impact on the marine law enforcement against illegal fishing practices after Palau declared its waters a marine sanctuary.

 On March 11, 2011, H.E. President Toribiong, President of the Republic of Palau, Paul Watson, President and Founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Steve Roest, Chief Executive Officer of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society signed a Memorandum of Agreement through which Sea Shepherd, a global marine conservation organization, will undertake an initial patrol campaign in the territorial waters of Palau and will provide advice in assessing options and best procedures for ongoing marine conservation operations. In addition, Sea Shepherd will fully fund the operations of its vessel M/Y Bob Barker, a former Norwegian whaler, and assets and will provide support and training to local authorities where needed or appropriate.

The well equipped conservation society taps into high-tech resources such as helicopter surveillance, drone (UAV) technology, fast interceptor boats, and radar tracking systems, putting the marine enforcement entity of Palau at par with the illegal fishing operations it is trying to fight since the implementation of the world’s first shark sanctuary in September 2009, followed by the extension to a complete marine sanctuary in November 2010.

Dermot Keane, Founder of non-profit organization Palau Shark Sanctuary, who established the contact between Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the Presidential Office of Palau, and signed the Memorandum of Agreement as a witness, comments: “This is a major milestone for Palau’s conservation efforts and clearly sends the right message to the world: our nation is serious about the enforcement of our marine protection laws, and with the help of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, even small nations can make a big difference.”

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Patrolling and Protecting Palau Shark Sanctuary

As per my last blog, a deal is indeed in the works that will bring considerable international support and long awaited assets to Palau to support Palau's Division of Marine Law Enforcement in patrolling and protecting the world's first shark sanctuary. In fact the shark sanctuary declaration was later expanded by President Toribiong to include all marine mammals in Palau's Exclusive Economic Zone which is an area approximately the size of France and a daunting challenge for Palau's Law Enforcement.

While the paperwork has taken a little longer than expected, the additional time being spent to finalize the agreement between Palau and the international conservation agency has been well-spent and the results are a stronger and more precise agreement with better defined roles that will improve effectiveness for all.

If all goes well I'm hopeful that this week will be the Week of The Shark in Palau as our Shark Sanctuary finally gets some real teeth! Hang in there!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Almost There! Don't Despair!

Regarding patrol and enforcement assistance for Palau Shark Sanctuary...well, true to the old adage, the job isn't done until the paperwork is finished! As such, there are a few more "i's" to be dotted and "t's" to be crossed in the Memorandum of Agreement between Palau and the "International Conservation Organization" that has committed considerable resources to Palau, before official wraps can be taken off the program and formal announcements made.

I've been assured by President Toribiongs office that final details will be taken care of this coming Monday, clearing the way formal announcements.

It's an exciting time for Palau as the need for assistance to enforce the sanctuary and Palau's fisheries regulations is highlighted by very recent events that took place concurrent with discussions regarding enforcement assistance.

Within the last two weeks illegal foreign fishing vessels have been targeting Palau's southwest islands and laying waste to Palau's reefs and fish stocks including many turtles while ill-equipped local rangers remained powerless to stop the raiders who are far better equipped. It's a classic David and Goliath battle. Rich "First World" nations raiding and robbing emerging Island Nations simply because they can! Illegal, immoral, and to date unstoppable. I am hopeful that the tides may finally be changing. They need to.

Please be patient and remain tuned for full details.

Palau Shark Sanctuary

Monday, March 14, 2011

At Long Last! Help Is On The Way!

I'm way overdue for making a post but have not been idle in the meantime. 

One of the biggest criticisms of Palau's shark sanctuary was Palau's inability to effectively patrol it. With only one patrol boat operated by Palau Marine Law Enforcement and an EEZ and sanctuary almost as big as France, much more help in enforcement is needed.

I'm pleased to report that later this week, (March 14 - 18) an announcement is forthcoming about help being on it's way to Palau! In an agreement brokered by Palau Shark Sanctuary, a commitment has been secured from a major marine conservation organization to fund a patrol boat, hi-speed chase boats, helicopter and or drones (UAV) to help patrol Palau's  shark sanctuary against poachers and illegal fishing activities.

Please stay tuned for more information and announcements later this week.