帛琉的環境、自然資源與旅遊部部長佛里茲(Harry Fritz) 23日於名古屋生物多樣性公約大會的海洋日記者會上，代表總統托里比昂(Johnson Toribiong)宣告這處60萬平方公里的新保護區。
帛琉的主要經濟來源是旅遊業，此外，全球最大的海豚研究機構「太平洋海豚灣公司」(Dolphins Pacific)以及專精熱帶珊瑚礁的現代化水族館暨研究機構「帛琉國際珊瑚礁中心」(Palau International Coral Reef Center)都位於帛琉。此區域水面下的生物多樣性十分壯觀，包括超過1500種的魚類與700種的珊瑚和海葵。
太平洋島嶼區(Pacific Islands Region) 海洋哺乳類數量已經大幅減少，這是因為19世紀，特別是在20世紀之中，對海洋哺乳類進行的捕獵行為，而捕獵者大多數是來自外國。」佛里茲表示：「國際捕鯨委員會已承認，有明確科學證據指出太平洋島嶼區裡，有許多大型鯨魚種類受到過去捕鯨的影響，其數量目前仍然極為稀少。」
The South Pacific island nation of Palau has declared all the waters within its Exclusive Economic Zone to be a marine mammal sanctuary for the protection of whales, dolphins, and dugongs.
Harry Fritz, Palau's minister of the environment, natural resources and tourism, announced the new 600,000 square kilometer (231,660 square mile) sanctuary on behalf of President Johnson Toribiong at a news conference Saturday during Oceans Day at the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Nagoya.
"From ancient times to today we have conserved our biodiversity through the tools of "bul" or moratoria, and protection of critical areas," said Fritz.
"Biodiversity has always been integral to the Palauan culture," he said. "Our traditional identity, values, legends, and practices are intimately linked to our surroundings and to our relationships with living creatures. Conservation of biodiversity is ingrained in our daily approach to life and inherent in the meaning of our words."
A close group of islands, Palau has at least 11 species of cetaceans in its waters, including a breeding population of sperm whales and as many as 30 other species of whales and dolphins. Palau's dugongs are the most isolated and endangered population in the world, said Fritz.
"This sanctuary will promote sustainable whale-watching tourism, already a growing multi-million dollar global industry, as an economic opportunity for the people of Palau," Fritz said.
Much of Palau's economy comes from tourism and the country hosts Dolphins Pacific, the world's largest dolphin research facility, and the Palau International Coral Reef Center, a modern aquarium and research facility specializing in tropical coral reefs. The region's spectacular underwater biodiversity includes over 1,500 species of fish and 700 species of coral and anemone.
"The hunting of marine mammals, largely by foreign countries, in the 19th and particularly the 20th centuries has dramatically reduced populations in the Pacific Islands Region," he said. "The International Whaling Commission has recognized that there is clear scientific evidence that in the Pacific Islands region many of the great whale species remain severely depleted in numbers, due to the impacts of past whaling."
"It is a well-established scientific principle that to protect migratory species it is necessary to protect them not only in their feeding areas and migratory routes but also in their breeding grounds," Fritz said.
Establishment of the sanctuary is intended to prohibit the deliberate hunting and harassment of any marine mammals.
But Palau has only one patrol boat at its disposal to patrol waters that cover an area just a little smaller than the U.S. state of Texas. The boat is supplied by Australia and operated by the government of Palau.
Fritz said that Palau is seeking assistance from neighboring countries in patrolling and surveillance of its EEZ for illegal taking of marine mammals.
Until now, Palau has voted with Japan in favor of commercial whaling at the annual meetings of the International Whaling Commission, and the establishment of its marine mammal sanctuary is viewed as a signal that Japan may no longer be able to count on Palau's vote for whaling.
Asked whether the new marine mammal sanctuary will affect Palau's relationship with Japan, Fritz said Palau is now making its position known and that it will be "understood by friends."