President Tommy Remengesau Jr. of the Republic of Palau
2016 For Excellence in National Stewardship
Having helped establish a shark sanctuary and pristine dive sites, in October 2015 President Tommy Remengesau signed into law legislation protecting 80 percent of his Pacific island nation’s territorial waters from any extractive activities including fishing, drilling and mining—an area larger than California. Palau’s remaining waters will be open to fishing by locals and a limited number of commercial operators. “Creating this sanctuary is a bold move that the people of Palau recognize as essential to our survival,” he announced. In December 2015 President Remengesau also signed an international treaty targeting Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) pirate fishing. “Palau will not tolerate poachers in our ocean. We are getting tough on illegal fishing at home, and today we are signing up for the global fight,” he stated. Palau’s government proved its seriousness when it burned four foreign vessels caught illegally fishing in its waters. Along with these bold initiatives President Remengasau has also been outspoken on the need for global action to address fossil fuel fired climate change that threatens many island nations such as Palau.