“Reaching new frontiers anchored in tradition,” is the theme for the 19th Anniversary and year 2020 of the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC). This theme’s significance is attributed to PICRC’s recently expanded mandate with the passage of RPPL 10-35. The new law assigned PICRC with a new role as an Administrator for the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS), in addition to other responsibilities covering research, education and outreach for Palau’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The passage of the law in June this year brought with it significant changes for PICRC since its founding in 1999; challenging PICRC to be innovative, bold and operate outside its ‘comfort zone’.
Conservation has always been at the core of Palauan culture and Palauans used their traditional values, knowledge and conservation systems to handle new challenges. What PICRC is going through – reaching new frontiers with its new mandate, reflects what Palau, as a nation, has been doing for ages when handling new changes and challenges – forging ahead anchored in tradition. From our traditional management, bul, to coastal Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to Protected Areas Network (PAN) and now to the Palau National Marine Sanctuary – an area very few Palauans have ventured into, our decisions have been guided by our traditional values.
As PICRC moves forward into this new frontier, it will need to be creative, resourceful, expand its expertise, create new partnership locally and abroad, and learn to use new tools and technologies in order to fulfill its new mandate. However, in navigating through these unknown waters, it can stay true to the course because it will be anchored in tradition – always having the welfare of the people of Palau in mind.