Palau is choosing to go local by pursuing a national commitment promoting reef conservation through local pelagic fishing, human wellness, and healthy traditional food sources such as tuna.
Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr. signed a directive this month calling for all government food service systems, and government or quasi-government events and functions serving fish to always “choose pelagics.”
He said fish served in any government food service system, or at any government or quasi-government function or event, should be tuna or other pelagic fish caught by Palauan artisanal pelagic fishers. Reef fish should not be served at any government event or in any government food service system unless there are no locally-sourced pelagic fish available.
Remengesau said Palau is experiencing high rates of obesity (46.2%), overweight (30.8%), raised total cholesterol (25.8%), diabetes (20.4%), and other non-communicable diseases primarily due to the replacement of traditional foods such as root crops and fish with cheap but nutritionally poor imported meats and canned foods.
Remengesau said Palau continues to work with its local, regional, and international partners to develop alternative pelagic fisheries to support fishing livelihoods and food security. He said the government will create incentives to promote sustainable domestic pelagic fishery, increase and support the number of Palauan artisanal pelagic fishers.
Palau adopted the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Act in 2015, which supports the development of domestic tuna fishery and other pelagic fish resources.