On May 16, 2019, Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism (MNRET), Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) Office and Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) held a PNMS Stakeholder Workshop. The workshop was attended by 38 participants from 20 agencies and organizations, including Bureau of Aging, Disability, and Gender, Conservation International, Coral Reef Research Foundation, Division of Marine Law Enforcement, Ebiil Society, Friends of the PNMS, Grants Office, Kerradel Conservation Network, Koror State Government, Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment, and Tourism, National Environmental Protection Council, Office of Climate Change, Our Oceans 2020, Pacific Note, Palau Conservation Society, Palau Visitors Authority, PICRC, The PNMS Office, The Nature Conservancy, and the UN Office Palau. Ms. Umai Basilius from Palau Conservation Society facilitated the workshop, ensuring that it ran smoothly and every stakeholder had a chance to provide input.
The objectives of this workshop were to share updates on the efforts to support the PNMS, identify research gaps and needs, provide input to stakeholder and advisor groups, and provide input to guide the PICRC-Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions (COS) working group supporting PNMS and MNRET. Additionally, the workshop was held to ensure that the process of implementation documents a range of perspectives and inputs.
During the workshop, participants took a look into the implementation process so far; the report from the PICRC-Stanford Workshop held in February of this year; and a list of questions designed to identify each participant’s proximity to the PNMS and its implementation. The group addressed questions such as the likely economic and ecological effects of no-take restrictions; what success looks like for the PNMS; and the social and economic effects of fishing in the 20%, as well as the export ban.
This meeting provided a platform for stakeholders to voice their opinions regarding the Sanctuary. The success of marine protection is heavily dependent on the support of the community. Everyone at the meeting had the same objective – to ensure the success of the PNMS for the people of Palau; however, ideas on how to reach this success, and what success might look like, differed among stakeholders. During the meeting, diligent notes were taken on the varying perspectives, which will help guide the work of the PICRC- COS Stanford working group to fill in research and information needed to successfully implement the PNMS.