“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’.
In 2016, Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) launched the Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr. Environmental Award. Presented every other year during PICRC’s largest fundraising event of the year, the Anniversary Gala Dinner, this Award is meant to recognize an individual that has made significant contributions to conservation and management efforts in Palau.
PICRC’s Environmental Award was named after President Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr.; first recipient of the Award in 2016 for his leadership and vision in moving forward conservation efforts in Palau. Likewise, Direngerkiu Carol O. Emaurois graciously accepted the Award in 2018 for her contributions in research and science education.
Out of the 135 entries submitted to the PNMS Translation Contest, Ms. Tkerbai Junior, a 6th grade student from Koror Elementary School, won with her translation, “Euotelel a klingil a debel Belau”. In her explanation, Ms. Junior expressed that we are not only protecting and conserving the life in the ocean for our fishery, but also for the well-being of Palauans.
The Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC), in honor of the 4th anniversary of the passing of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) Act on October 28, 2015, launched the PNMS Translation Contest as a way to connect PNMS, a contemporary expression of Palauan culture, to the Palauan language. The Palauan language, which has been used by Palauan forefathers from ancient times until the present day, is an expression of culture, and thus, it plays a vital role in connecting the PNMS to the people of Palau.
By 2050, Palau is predicted to lose 25% of its fisheries catch potential due to climate change alone. The unrelenting demand for fish, joined by the threats of a changing climate and continually advancing technology, require more sophisticated and effective conservation measures. For Palau, this means that, in addition to ensuring community and leadership support for the nearshore Protected Areas Network (PAN), we need more expansive and progressive management approaches than what we have done in in the past to implement bul. Establishing the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) located far away from our traditional nearshore fishing grounds is an example of this forward-thinking approach. However, the distance and scale of this offshore marine protected area necessitates management that is guided by information and supported by research.
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.