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A Victorious Veto in Palau
By Matt J. Weiss, February 3, 2010 @ 05:31 AM (EST)
Editor's Note --
One of the proposed changes in Senate Bill No. 8-50 was that the transshipment port for catches be changed from Malakal Harbor in Palau to General Santos City in the Philippines. Consequently, this change would remove the protection of Palauan fishing regulations which would result in increased illegal shark fishing/finning and massive bycatch of other threatened species, while allowing free entry for the Palauan catches imported into the Philippines.

Senate Bill No. 8-50 allowed five years of export tax exemption for all fish caught by purse seine and handline, removing the current statute dictating that there be a tax of 35 cents per kilo on tuna, the main family of species targeted in Palau's waters with handlining and  indiscriminate purse seining method.

Edward Dorson has articulated the issues of Senate Bill No. 8-50 very nicely while praising President Toribiong for his courage and commitment  in vetoing it. However, Edward and Palau's president need our help. Senate Bill No. 8-50 can still become law through a 2/3 majority overriding vote by Palau's National Congress.

Please write your praise and support of President Toribiong's veto. All the information on the bill, including the email addresses for the president, legislative politicians, and all influential Palauan groups can be found in Edward Dorson's letter below. If you have any questions, please post them in the comments below. We will try to get them answered.
  -- Matt

By Edward Dorson

On September 25th, 2009, the President of Palau made a UN proclamation of Palau's territorial waters as the "World's First National Shark Sanctuary." Now more positive change has taken place in Palau since President Toribiong's historic UN announcement:

On January 13th, Palau Senate Bill No. 8-50 - a destructive purse seining/tax exemption bill that was passed by Palau's National Congress - was vetoed by President Toribiong. The president said: "this bill does not promote the implementation of national objectives set forth in the Constitution with regards to conserving a resourceful natural environment or promoting the national economy." He added that "exempting certain companies from paying fish export tax contradicts the government's policy." He also proposed a fisheries summit to be held in late February in order to make sound fishing policy more beneficial for Palau and all of Micronesia, with the participation of neighboring Pacific countries.

A recap on the bill: Palau's Senate Bill No. 8-50 would have prevented Palauans from receiving tax export revenue for all catches along with assigning General Santos City in the Philippines as the new transshipment port (presently Malakal harbor in Palau). Without the tax collection incentive and with catches avoiding Palau's port, all Palauan regulatory oversight would have been removed...including preventing rampant shark fishing/finning, curtailing endangered species harvest, and control of overshooting quotas.

Palau's President Toribiong has now proved himself as having true leadership abilities, as well as a vision capable of seeing Palau's "sanctuary" as a promise he intends fulfill -- beyond just a metaphor of stewardship with his announcement at the UN on September 25th.

Although vetoed, SB No. 8-50 can still become law by a 2/3rd overriding vote in Palau's National Congress (the OEK) within 30 days of its return to the Senate and the House of Delegates. With this possibility, I urge that people lend their support to the president's stance.

All congratulatory messages backing President Toribiong's veto can be sent to:
President Toribiong, President of the Republic of Palau:

and Cc'd to:

The Senate of the Eigth Olbiil Era Kelulau (OEK):

Speaker of the House of Delegates:

House Committee on Maritime and Fisheries:

Palau Chamber of Commerce:

Palau Conservation Society:

Belau Tourism Association:

Palau Visitors Authority:




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