"Nippon Foundation lookin at strengthening Palau’s maritime surveillance capabilities"
WRITTEN BY ADMINISTRATOR
THURSDAY, 12 FEBRUARY
President Remengesau met with Mr. Mitsuyuki Unno, the Executive Director of the Nippon Foundation to review a proposal by the Nippon Foundation to strengthen Palau’s maritime surveillance capabilities. The Nippon Foundation proposes to create the “21st Century Japan-Palau Sustainable Ocean Alliance.” The primary objective of the Alliance is to support Palau in its path towards becoming a self-reliant maritime nation by further strengthening maritime law enforcement and promoting environmental protection and eco-friendly industries with support from Japan, the U.S. and Australia.
President Remengesau was impressed by the proposal’s practicality, feasibility and its cohesion with Palau’s direction and efforts in establishing its National Marine Sanctuary and its position in creating high-value tourism. The President was moreover impressed with the diligent and prompt work of the Nippon Foundation having only requested these forms of assistance in December 2014 in Japan.
The Nippon Foundation and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation propose to strengthen Palau’s maritime surveillance capabilities by upgrading the present three vessel surveillance system of one medium-sized patrol vessel provided by Australia and two small patrol boats provided by the Foundations into a five vessel system by providing Palau with an additional medium-sized patrol vessel to accompany the PSS Remeliik and another small patrol boat to accompany the Bul and Kabekel’ Metal. The Foundations will provide assistance for fuel, maintenance and personnel costs to support maritime surveillance operations.
The Foundations also propose the establishment of the Palau Coast Guard Bureau that would manage the fleet and all maritime surveillance operations. The Foundations propose to construct an extension of the existing patrol boat vessel berth to accommodate two patrol vessels or a dedicated birthing facility will be prepared at Port Malakal.
The Foundations and Palau will work together in recruiting personnel and vessel crew while the vessels are in construction. The Foundations will also recruit active or retired Japan Coast Guard personnel to be dispatched on a full time basis. The proposal includes the construction of an office building with meeting rooms, an operational command room, materials warehouse, training room for martial arts and arresting technique and fitness training to be built. Assistance shall be provided by the foundations to enable the use of aircraft such as helicopters and airplanes for maritime surveillance duties by utilizing those assets owned by aircraft operation companies on a time charter basis.
The expected outcome of this objective is an increased preparedness and coverage for prompt responses in both Palau’s territorial waters and its Exclusive Economic Zone and a strengthened deterrence to prevent illegal and criminal activities such as IUU fishing.
An additional component to the proposal was also presented to President Remengesau that is the “Framework for Plan to Study the Promotion of Tourism and Ecotourism in the Republic of Palau.” With the aim of promoting ecotourism as a means for sustainable development of Palau’s natural environment, a comprehensive study will be conducted to ascertain the actual state of environmental protection and tourism promotion in Palau, and then compared to those of other nations so as to formulate a grand design with respect to the role of environmental protection regulations and measures for tourism promotion. Also, in conducting this study, consideration will be given to ways in which liaisons may be strengthened among agents (community residents, Palau government, researchers and businesses) in line with the ecotourism philosophy.
For this study plan, an exploratory committee, which will be comprised of business people and researchers concerned with ecotourism, environment, environmental law and Palau studies, will first be established. The committee will examine the direction this study will take, conduct a Fact Finding Study (FFS) and Feasibility Study (FS), then, after an assessment of the study’s results, will submit the final report. The study period will be 12 months.
The study team will be composed of experts from the Center for Advanced Tourism Studies, Hokkaido University, the Japan Ecotourism Society, Sociologists specializing in Palau, Pacific Islands Center, the Institute for Academic Initiatives, Osaka University, Embassy of Japan in the Republic of Palau, experts in environment, ecosystems and environmental Law from the Graduate School of Law, Hitotsubashi University and the Japan Association for Environmental Law and Policy, the International Institute for Okinawan Studies, University of the Ryukyus, and the Palau Visitor’s Authority.
President Remengesau thanked Mr. Unno and his team and expressed his appreciation to the Chairman of the Nippon Foundation, Mr. Yohei Sasakawa. The President also added that, “I am immensely pleased to see a plan of action that is this both methodical and realistic with a sensible timeline. Palau looks forward to this exceptional partnership.” As of press time, a Memorandum of Understanding is being finalized for the creation of the “21st Century Japan-Palau Sustainable Ocean Alliance.”