This island nation banned fishing in an area of ocean the size of France | Pioneers for Our Planet
For a small society like Palau fragile environment very limited resources very limited opportunities we have to basically live with the environment. And this is where our traditions come into focus. Bul literally translated is prohibition, but there’s a deeper meaning to bul prohibition in the sense that you’re doing this to benefit your children. You’re doing this because you have to think about tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and the years coming. When we see that certain spot is depleting so much, we apply that bul and then it revives itself. I am a fisherman and I like to think of myself as having taken a leave of absence from fishing so that I could serve in public service. What I have been doing is making those traditions and practices into the laws of the land so that it’s just not common knowledge or traditional practices so that it’s being enforced by the people and also enforced by the laws of the land. Spearfishing requires you to have some big lungs to go down and really wait for the fish. And you also have to be a good swimmer and you have to really go down and hold your breath and get underneath the rock and lure the fish into shooting range. It’s a good game but when I spearfish I usually challenge myself to shoot a certain kind of fish. Once I trick it and shoot it I’m done for the day. You only take what fits in your pot. If you only take what you need and leave the rest for the next day it’s protecting them. I just take what I can eat at that time. If I put it in the freezer I make sure I’ll share with the neighbors. My relatives come, it’s a present. Different factors have caused declines in reef fish populations. In many places it was the mechanization or modernization of fishing gear that’s led to humans basically becoming far too efficient at catching fish. I guess the world is driven by economic considerations and giving nature time to recover is not necessarily what gives you the greatest economic return in the short term. And so that kind of thinking has, I guess brought us to where we are today. Everyone in Palau we actually have the same legacy. We want to leave the world a little bit better than what we came into. That’s the Palauan traditional teaching. That’s the legacy that we all want.