To protest the rise of illegal fishing, the Pacific island of Palau set fire to four Vietnamese fishing boats that were caught poaching sea cucumbers, along with other marine life, from its waters.
“We wanted to send a very strong message,” Palau's president, Tommy Remengesau Jr., told The Associated Press. “We will not tolerate any more these pirates who come and steal our resources.”
The destruction of these boats, which were burned Friday morning, June 12, is meant to send a message of warning to other nations who do not respect Palau’s calls for the preservation of its marine life.
In the past, Palau officials have caught at least 15 boats loaded with lobsters, reef fish, sea cucumbers, sharks, and shark fins.
All the boats were of Vietnamese origin, and were stripped of their fishing gear before being sent back to Vietnam. Now, President Remengesau says that it has become clear that merely removing the fishermen’s tools is not enough.
“I think it's necessary to burn the boats,” Remengesau told the AP.
Recently, Indonesia took even more serious steps to warn foreign nations against poaching from the country’s waters, blowing up and sinking a number of ships from Vietnam, Thailand, China, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
Palau’s long-term goal is to turn its waters into a national marine sanctuary, permitting the use of specific areas of water only by domestic fishermen and tourists.