In the Micronesian nation of Palau, Illegal poachers from Vietnam had 4 of their ships burned in a public spectacle recently. Palau is a shining example for the rest of the world with its fight for marine conservation. In 2009, the Palauan government established the world's first shark sanctuary. Plans to eventually convert the majority of their waters into a marine sanctuary are already being pushed through the legislature. Palau's Rock Islands Southern Lagoon was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012.
In the last year alone, authorities have seized 15 ships full of illegally harvested marine life. The President of Palau, President Tommy Remengesau believes that with such an influx of marine poaching, stripping the boats of their fishing gear and sending them back to their home country just isn't enough. "I think it is necessary to burn the boats," President Remengesau said.
The poaching industry, which accounts for $23.5 billion of the $117.5 billion dollar market for marine products, is difficult to combat. Due to the amount of 'high seas', which make up two-thirds of the world's oceans, poachers often run to these areas to avoid capture. One idea floating around is to create a "geofence", triggering alerts when a vessel crosses into national waters.
Neighboring Indonesia is also taking a tougher stance on poaching. They recently scuttled 41 poaching ships hailing from Vietnam, China, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. Seemingly harsh treatment has been deemed acceptable by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
Other countries are following in Palau's footsteps when it comes to marine conservation. The British plan on making the Pitcairn Islands, home of the descendants of the HMS Bounty, into an 834,000 square kilometer continuous marine reserve, the world's largest. The U.S. government announced last year to expand the protected areas around Johnson Atoll, Wake Atoll, and Jarvis Island. Once expanded, the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument will encompass 1.05 million square kilometers.