Following aggressive pressure from the Japanese government, President Johnson Toribiong of the Republic of Palau has unfortunately decided to withdraw from the agreement made in March 2011 with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which would have authorized them to patrol Palau's territorial waters and protect the sharks, turtles, rays, and other marine life of this one-of-a-kind archipelago.
The Japanese government has promised to provide Palau with a patrol vessel and financial support as an alternative to Sea Shepherd's involvement. Sea Shepherd is optimistic that Japan's offer to protect the sanctuary is sincere and not merely a ploy to negate Sea Shepherd's intervention against poachers whose unlawful catch in large majority ends up in the Japanese fish market.
Sea Shepherd welcomes the news that Japan will step up and assist Palau to enforce the laws that protect the marine sanctuary of the Republic of Palau and provide the ships and support that will make this possible. Sea Shepherd will of course closely follow the progress of this marine protection campaign. Should support from Japan fail to materialize, then Sea Shepherd will be happy to again offer to support Palau in this important mission.
President Toribiong should be commended for his concern and desire to eradicate shark poaching in his nation's waters. Sea Shepherd applauds the President's courage in speaking up on such matters that other national leaders, especially leaders of powerful nations, refuse to address.
Shark protection remains a major focus for Sea Shepherd and they are already in discussion with several other Pacific islands that are keen to work with them to defend their marine environments. The Bob Barker is currently in drydock undergoing repairs and maintenance, she will be ready in time to cover the Southern Ocean if the Japanese whalers return this year, but if they do not, then she will patrol the Pacific in defense of sharks.
There is no shortage of poachers in the South Pacific and thus, no shortage of illegal fishing operations for Sea Shepherd to intervene against.