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Stiffer Fines for Damages in Environment Sought

By Jowie G. Aquino

President Remengesau has introduced a bill seeking stiffer penalties against firms responsible for damaging Palau’s marine environment. 

The chief executive has expressed concern for the continuing problems on the recovery of compensation each time the country’s coral reefs and marine resources suffer from ship groundings, oil spills, discharges of pollutants and other activities. 

This came after a tugboat and barge carrying rock aggregate for the Compact Road Project ran aground the reef outside the Ngeremlengui Passage on Saturday morning. 

To address these problems, Remengesau asked the National Legislature to immediately act on the proposed measures, saying the country needed comprehensive mechanisms to respond to such events. 

‘Currently, we have no legislative regime that permits us to value our damaged marine resources.  We also have minimal authority under current laws to enforce the payment of damages when such damages occur’ the President said. 

Further, Remengesau said state governments need assistance and guidance on their efforts to collect payments for their damaged coral reefs. 

‘States are often ill-equipped to take effective legal action to obtain compensation for damages and face significant burdens in trying to prove the value of such resources because of the complex, economic analysis needed for valuation of individual resources,’ he said. 

Remengesau added that state governments also lack the means to restore the coral reef and often use the compensation they obtained for other purposes. 

If it becomes a law, all revenue obtained in accordance with the Act shall be deposited in a revolving trust fund. 

In assessing the extent of damages, the President is seeking imposition of higher fines depending on the type of marine resources that had been damaged. 

The bill seeks $2,000 per square meter or $ 4,000 per cubic meter impacted for current recreational coral reefs, while $4,000 per square meter or $ 6,000 per cubic meter for coral reefs within the conservation areas or other areas protected by state or national law. 

A fine of $ 1,500 per square meter or $ 3,000 per cubic meter will be imposed if the coral reefs or sea grass have high value as fish nurseries or marine habitat, whereas $ 500 per square meter or $1,000 per cubic meter will be imposed for reefs adjacent to shipping channels or docking facilities. 

Moreover, other than the coral reef, Remengesau also wants to impose fines for endangered organisms such as birds and fish killed during such incidents. 

For oil spill incidents, the President said minimum damages may be based on the volume discharged.

SOURCE: Palau Horizon, 5 July 2002


To get involved, contact :


National Co-ordinator
Mr Joe Chilton
Palau Community College
PO Box 9
Koror, 96940
Republic of Palau
T: + 680 488 2470
F: + 680 488 6563

Ms. Tiare Holm
Palau Conservation Society
P.O. Box 1811,
Koror, 96940
Republic of Palau
T: ++ 680 488 3993
F: ++ 680 488 3990

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