Palau is burning boats to deter illegal poaching of marine life

The president of Palau said: 'We will not tolerate any more these pirates who come and steal our resources'

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The Independent Online

The pacific nation of Palau has burnt four Vietnamese boats illegally fishing in the waters of the island nation in a stern message against activities of this kind.

Palau's president, Tommy Remengesau Jr., said: "We wanted to send a very strong message. We will not tolerate any more these pirates who come and steal our resources."

President Remengesau Jr also said he hopes to turn most of Palau’s territorial waters into a national marine sanctuary, banning commercial fishing and exports apart from limited areas to be used by domestic fishermen and tourists.

The small Pacific island nation of Palau has set fire to four Vietnamese fishing vessels caught illegally operating in its waters, and delivered a stern warning that it will not tolerate poaching.

In 2009 the country created the world’s first shark sanctuary, but until recently only had one patrol boat to help keep over 130 species of shark and rays from extinction.

The four boats which were destroyed were among 15 which Palau authorities have caught fishing the species - as well as sea cucumbers, lobsters and reef fish - illegally in their waters since last year.

Mr Remengesau Jr. said that the stream of poachers demonstrated that the previous policy of simply stripping the rogue boats of their nets and confiscating their catches was not enough.

"I think it's necessary to burn the boats," he said.

Despite progress in tracing sources of fish sold to consumers, about a fifth of the global market for marine products caught and sold, or about $23.5 billion, is caught illegally.

Additional reporting AP