Following moves to repeal laws protecting sharks in the waters of Palau, authorities there have now proposed legislation to exempt fish exports from tax, thereby making it cheaper for big fishing fleets to target fish in the area.
Full text below via the Shark Talk blog.
The Pressure Mounts on Palau’s Sharks and Other Marine Species!
On the heels of recently proposed legislation (SB8-44) that would undo Palau’s ban on shark fishing comes yet another threat to Palau’s marine resources and national treasury by way of proposed legislation (SB8-50) to exempt fishing companies from export taxes on fish caught by purse seining and to allow those fish to be off-loaded at a foreign port(s).
SENATE BILL S-44 proposes:
“To amend Title 27 of the Palau National Code to allow for the commercial fishing of sharks within Palau’s Exclusive Economic Zone, to impose a tax on the export of sharks and tuna-like species, and for other related purposes.”
SENATE BILL S-50 proposes:
“To exempt, for a period of five years, the export of tuna and tuna-like species caught using the group purse seining or handline fishing method from Palau’s fish export tax, to allow for an alternate transshipment port for fish caught using the group purse seining or handline fishing method, and for other related purposes.”
The bill goes on to say in Section 4: “For five year from the effective date of this Act, the export of any fish caught by a commercial fishing company using the group purse seining or handline fishing method shall be exempt from the fish export tax”
If these two proposed bills pass in to law, the combined effect will be:
* To permit and encourage the killing of sharks in Palau’s waters
* To promote shark finning
* To promote fishing methods that according to Monterey Bay Aquarium “result in large amounts of unintended catch” including sharks, dolphins, turtles, rays and juveniles:
* To exempt fishing companies from any export taxes on fish taken from Palau’s waters
* To make it practically impossible for Palau’s law enforcement personnel to successfully prosecute alleged violators in the courts
* To risk destroying Palau’s sustainable tourism industry
* To risk destroying Palau’s marine resources through unsustainable practices
* To gamble on all of the above for no apparent gain to Palau or Palauans.
Both proposed Bills are conspicuously absent of any information, explanation or data to demonstrate a positive benefit to the People of Palau and or Palau’s National Treasury from passage of these Bills. Meanwhile, members of Palau’s tourism industry are becoming increasingly alarmed at the potential severe negative impacts on tourism and the pristine marine environment that underpins that industry, if these Bills pass in to law.
There are very active negotiations underway between Palau and The Philippines at this very time to enter in to commercial fishing agreements and clearly there are elements of strong political support for the fishing companies as indicated by SB 8-44 and SB 8-50.
The private industry organizations Palau Chamber of Commerce (email@example.com) and Belau Tourism Association (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the government tourism office Palau Visitors Authority (email@example.com) are urging those around the world opposed to shark fishing, shark finning and unsustainable fishing practices to please express their concerns immediately by e-mail to all of the respective organizations.
It is ironic in The International Year of The Shark 2009, that Palau, the worlds very first winner of Sharkprojects “Shark Guardian of The Year Award” is considering legislation that could potentially put it at bitter odds with the international shark conservation community and destroy its reputation as a world class dive destination known for abundant sharks and large pelagic animals.