Regional e-Notes: November Letter from the Director
We here at CTSA hope you and your family had a joyous Thanksgiving holiday! In addition to being thankful for our loved ones, we are particularly thankful this year to see that one of the islands in our region is once again making bold strides in the global advancement towards a more sustainable world.
As you may have heard, Palau recently banned many types of sunscreen in a move to protect its coral reefs and other marine life. Last year when our CTSA team was visiting the island, its famous jellyfish lake was closed due to an alarming die-off of jellyfish. Resource managers concluded that sunscreen was partially to blame, and took action to close the lake until the jellyfish population was restored. This year, legislators took further action to ban harmful sunscreens and impose fines of up to $1,000 per violation. Palau was also the first country to ban commercial fishing in its EEZ, and established the world’s first shark sanctuary. In addition, the island nation’s ‘Climate Change Policy’ was the first of its kind in our region to address risks from and adapt to the expected widespread impacts of climate change.
Adaptation to climate change is something all Pacific Islands should be addressing now. According to the Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II—recently published by the U.S. Global Change Research Program—“fisheries, coral reefs and the livelihoods they support are threatened by higher ocean temperatures and ocean acidification.” This Key Message from “Chapter 27 - Hawai’i and U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands” highlights the importance of taking strong action to save our reefs and the fisheries they support. Coral reefs are a significant contributor to most Pacific Island economies; in Hawai’i alone, reefs contribute an estimated $477 million to the local economy every year. It is our hope that all of the islands in our region will take a proactive approach to ensure their safeguarding, just as Palau continues to do.
Palau and its people have depended on the ocean and its resources for centuries, and their inherent respect for the environment is evident in their policy-making. They are setting strong examples for others to follow in natural resource management, food security, ecotourism, and many other areas. CTSA is proud to partner with Palau on its incorporation of aquaculture into management plans, and will continue to celebrate the small island nation for it’s global environmental leadership. Stay tuned!
Cheng-Sheng Lee, Ph.D.
Executive Director, CTSA