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TOKYO (AP) — Lawmakers in the tiny Pacific island nation of Palau passed a law Thursday to make almost all its coastal waters a marine sanctuary in the latest move to expand ocean protections.
A news release said Palau’s president plans to sign the legislation next week. Friday is a national holiday in Palau.
The Palau National Marine Sanctuary Act designates 80 percent of the nation’s maritime territory as a fully protected marine reserve in which no extractive activities, such as fishing or mining, can take place.
At 500,000 square kilometers (193,000 square miles), or slightly larger than the U.S. state of California, the sanctuary will be the sixth-largest fully protected marine area in the world.
The measure also seeks to prevent illegal fishing by tightening rules for vessels passing through Palau’s waters.
About 20 percent of Palau’s waters will be reserved as a domestic fishing zone for local fishermen and small-scale commercial fisheries with limited exports. There will be a five-year transition as the number of commercial licenses issued to foreign commercial fishing vessels will be reduced and phased out.
President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. described the measure as essential.
“We want to lead the way in restoring the health of the ocean for future generations,” he said in a statement.
The country created the world’s first shark sanctuary in 2009, but until recently had only one patrol boat to help protect its great hammerheads, leopard sharks and more than 130 other species of shark and rays from extinction.
Earlier this year, the government set fire to several vessels caught fishing illegally to underscore its commitment to protecting its seas.
Palau, about 600 miles (970 kilometers) miles east of the Philippines, is one of the world’s smallest countries, its 20,000 people scattered across a tropical archipelago of 250 islands that is a biodiversity hotspot.
The Pew Charitable Trusts provided technical support for establishing the shark sanctuary and the Palau National Marine Sanctuary.
New commitments made this year would protect more than 2.5 million square kilometers of the world’s ocean territory.
Britain plans to establish the Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve in the South Pacific. On Sept. 28, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced plans for a fully protected ocean sanctuary in the Kermadecs, about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) northeast of his country’s North Island.
Earlier this month, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet promised to support efforts by the indigenous Rapa Nui community of Easter Island to create a fully protected marine park. Pic courtesy of: memenews.me.
Article courtesy of: AP
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From Vanessa S. in the Great White North! “Hello to my favourite people at Cute Overload! I was hoping that you would post about my favourite place to spend time – Wishing Well Sanctuary. The sanctuary means so much to many of us in the Toronto area and is our ‘go to’ place for peace, love and harmony. Above, that’s Muzzle Tov being photo bombed by Chakra.”
“Not only are they a sanctuary, for animals and people, but they also offer a number of humane education programs to teach children about our planet and the importance of compassion and being kind to one another.”
“They have recently added a number of newcomers to their family, Kai and Bali the calves, Petunia the pig, and Meadow the lamb. I thought that everyone might like to meet them. Peace for all beings.”
“Oh and here’s their FB.”
It is a last kindness. A man in camouflage takes out a knife and severs the horn of a rhinoceros, depriving the animal of its most iconic feature. The poachers who have killed this animal have fled, leaving behind their prize: the keratin that makes up the horn. It’s a substance so valued for its use in traditional Asian medicine that vast numbers of rhinos are being slaughtered for it. Severing the horn will keep it off the black market. Even in death, the rhino must be maimed to be saved.
That’s a measure of just how dire the present has become for the rhinos and elephants of Africa. After years of relative calm, trafficking in species like elephants and rhinos doubled from 2007 to 2013, largely to meet the growing demand for ivory and other animal products from the rising consumer class of Asia. By some estimates, wildlife trafficking…
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