The Palau government has amended its marine sanctuary regulations to allow foreign fishing boats partial access to its waters.
According to media reports, the Palau Congress passed a new law this week authorizing the changes to the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Act — a landmark legislation signed into law in 2015.
Under the new law, Palau will close around 80 percent of its exclusive maritime economic zone to commercial fishing next year. The protected zone covers around 193,000 square miles, an area roughly the size of Spain.
The remaining 20 percent will be reserved for Palau fishermen. While this was the original plan, the passage of the new law this week created a corridor, giving foreign longline vessels limited fishing access in the area.
Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr. said the changes were made to accommodate vessels from Okinawa, Japan, which have fished in Palau waters for generations.