Palau Hopes Fishing Ban Will Draw Tourists

Palau will be hosting the 45th Pacific Islands Forum from July 29 to August 1. The Forum is considered to be one of the most important meetings of Pacific leaders. Over 300 delegates are expected to attend to discuss this year’s theme of, “The Ocean: Life and Future”, which is quite fitting since Palau is under international watch for its decision to ban commercial fishing.

This proposed ban would turn Palau’s 230,000 square miles of EEZ into a Marine reserve. This is a bold move since Palau makes around $5 million or 3.3 percent of GDP from its commercial fisheries, by allowing countries like Japan and Taiwan access to their waters.

So how will Palau make up the eventual loss of $5 million in their annual income? The hope is that the ban will attract tourists.

The ban could turn Palau into a tourist hotspot; it is already a venue for many travelers with over 100,000 visitors a year.

Palau has direct flights from four major Asian countries (Taiwan, Philippines, S. Korea, and Japan). National Geographic has stated that Palau is “one of the last great places on earth”, with “fully half of the plants [in Palau]—3,334 species to be exact—exist[ing] no place on Earth but [in Palau]”.

With only 21,000 Palauan residents, an increase of their existing 100,000 tourists could be a strain for the country. However, it could also be the answer to a more sustainable management of their precious marine resources.