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Palau’s National Marine Sanctuary: Managing Ocean Change and Supporting Food Security

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This 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, in anticipation of the implementation of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary.

About the Report

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. Crucially, 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.

The Working Group brought together diverse experts from Palau and around the world to address those questions. 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 this 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.  

Read the Stanford News story 


The goal of this report is to support implementation and decision making for the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS). 

Specific objectives are to:

  • Distill and clarify the PNMS legislation
  • Synthesize knowledge about social, ecological, and economic dimensions of the PNMS
  • Conduct new analyses to begin filling knowledge gaps
  • Present informed policy options for achieving desired outcomes  
  • Identify priorities for future research, monitoring, and evaluation