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Island on blue ocean water.

The Palau National Marine Sanctuary

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In 2015, Palau embarked on an extraordinary journey, announcing protection of 80% of the waters in its domain. In creating the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS), Palau once again asserted its visionary leadership in ocean conservation and its determination to chart its own destiny. The PNMS is one of the largest marine protected areas (MPAs) in the world. Unlike many large-scale MPAs, the Sanctuary has the entire population of the country residing at its heart. Thus, implementation of the PNMS provided both the opportunity and the imperative to demonstrate how ambitious protection of ocean resources can enable an island nation to ensure its food security and grow its economy in an era of tumultuous change in the climate and in the ocean.

2015 PNMS Act Enacted, 2020 PNMS fully implemented, 80% of Palau's Exclusive Economic Zone Protected, Over 590,000 km^2 covered.
Tuna swimming in ocean.

Palau National Marine Sanctuary Report

Managing ocean change and supporting food security

The PNMS Report was created by the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) and the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions, in collaboration with an expert Working Group, to support implementation and decision-making for the PNMS.

The Working Group brought together diverse experts from Palau and around the world. They collaborated to marshal what is known about the resources in Palau’s waters and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, and to outline options for the Government and others to consider as they fully implemented the PNMS Act, with the intention that the report would provide the Government and the people of Palau with a strong foundation for full implementation of the PNMS policies. Members of the Working Group prioritized an ongoing investment in monitoring, research, and exploration, and a continual commitment to consultation and engagement with all of those who have a stake in the process and outcomes.

Embodying a deep tradition of ocean stewardship, the PNMS is a legacy of immeasurable value for the people of Palau. It is also a beacon for the rest of the world. In the coming years, the global community will gather to drive progress in achieving the ocean agenda embodied in Sustainable Development Goal 14, to set new ambitions for protecting the Earth’s biodiversity, and to step up efforts to fight climate change. It is the Working Group's hope that Palau’s leadership, in declaring the PNMS and in translating that declaration into action, will inspire other nations to rise to these pressing challenges.


Boat on water.

Palau National Marine Sanctuary: Science and Monitoring Strategy

Healthy ocean populations, food security, and sustainable development

Building from the 2019 PNMS Working Group effort, PICRC staff are pursuing a significant strategic planning effort for the current and future management of the PNMS. One of the first resources is the PNMS Science and Monitoring Strategy 2024–2034, which was designed to “guide research and information generation that is critical for PNMS management now and over time.” 

This planning effort has included extensive collaboration with local stakeholders in Palau as well as the broader research and management community. Through engaging local communities, PICRC is developing an evolution of traditional coastal and marine resource management through a cultural practice of dynamic protection referred to as a “bul.”

Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions staff members Fiorenza Micheli, Eric Hartge, and Collin Closek, as well as Stanford PhD Candidate Natalie Arnoldi contributed as participants in a December 2022 expert working group session—one of the largest convenings of research scientists in Palau to date. COS Research Development Manager Eric Hartge also contributed as a co-author of the framework document.

Image credits

Banner: Collin Closek; PNMS Report:; PNMS Science and Monitoring Strategy: Collin Closek; Gallery image 1: Eric Hartge; Gallery image 2: Palau International Coral Reef Center; Gallery image 3: Eric Hartge