Palau, an archipelago composed of more than 250 islands in the western Pacific Ocean, is known worldwide for its healthy and incredibly diverse marine ecosystem. The waters around the country cover 600,000 square kilometers (230,000 square miles)—an area about the size of France. Those nutrient-rich waters are home to more than 1,300 species of fish and 700 species of coral, and harbor a variety of sharks, turtles, manta rays, dugongs, and tropical fish. It is said that Palau has more species of marine life than any other region of similar size on Earth.
The reefs off this Micronesian island nation have been called one of the seven underwater wonders of the world.
On Oct. 28, 2015, following unanimous passage in the National Congress, President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. signed the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Act, establishing one of the world’s largest protected areas of ocean.
The sanctuary fully protects about 80 percent of the nation’s maritime territory, a higher percentage than in any other country. A separate zone reserved for local fishermen and small-scale commercial fisheries with limited exports will cover the remainder of Palau’s exclusive economic zone.
To ensure the sustainability and feasibility of this massive endeavor, the sanctuary will be phased in over a five-year period. The Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy team continues to work with the people of Palau to implement the sanctuary plan.