On Monday, October 28, a celebration of the 4th Anniversary of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) was held at Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC). On October 28, 2015, the PNMS Act was signed into law. The celebration included a lecture by Paddling Palau, the awarding of several contests, and the screening of the movie, “Wild Dolphins”.
With over 70 people attending the event, PICRC’s CEO, Dr. Yimnang Golbuu, started the night by highlighting the importance of the PNMS as a means of marine conservation, as well as providing food security and bringing more benefits to the people of Palau. The night continued with a presentation by Paddling Palau and their research on cetaceans —large marine mammals such as whales and dolphins— found within Palauan waters. The lecture provided insight to the biodiversity that exists in Palau, and highlighted the significance of the PNMS as a refuge for these organisms to grow and develop.
As part of the celebration, winners of the 2019 Palau Pledge Challenge and Our Oceans Essay Contest, were announced by Elia Yobech, Chairman of the Friends of the PNMS, and Okeriil Kazuo, press secretary of the Office of the President, respectively. The 2019 Palau Pledge Challenge asked students to collect cigarette butts; altogether, students in Palau collected an impressive 179.3lb. Likewise, the Essay Contest challenged students to answer the question “What does your ocean mean to you?” Students from Maris Stella, George B. Harris, Belau Modekngei School, and Mindszenty High School received prizes for their extraordinary efforts in promoting marine conservation.
The winner of the translation contest was also announced. Koror Elementary student, Tkerbai Junior, won the PNMS Translation Contest, with “Euotelel a klingil a debel Belau” as the translation for Palau National Marine Sanctuary. Having a Palauan translation of PNMS is important because PNMS is owned by the people of Palau. The PNMS protects 500,000 km2 of ocean, which is 80% of Palau’s EEZ. This measure will ensure long-term local food security and biodiversity conservation within Palauan waters and establishes Palau as a world leader in marine conservation.