In 2016 and 2017, we conducted research on the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS). The PNMS was established in October 2015. Following a five-year transition period, the PNMS will comprise a no-take zone of approximately 500,000 km2 or 80% of the Pacific Island nation’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The remaining 20% of Palau’s EEZ has been designated a “domestic fishing zone” intended primarily to serve Palau’s domestic market.

Effective monitoring and enforcement has been identified as a major challenge and priority for the PNMS, and a detailed five-year monitoring, control and surveillance plan has been developed to strengthen Palau’s maritime enforcement capabilities. The PNMS is expected to attract economic revenue as part of an international marketing drive to promote ecotourism. Tourism currently provides more than 50% of Palau’s Gross Domestic Product. The PNMS is part of a strategic vision to construct Palau as the Pacific’s ‘Pristine Paradise’ – a world-class tourist destination. An increase in ecotourism income is expected to ensure the long-term sustainability of Palau’s economy.

As a recently established large MPA, the PNMS offers important insights about early-stage decision-making and debates surrounding the role of a large MPA within national environment and development agendas.

We would like to thank all individuals in Palau (and beyond) who offered their time and assistance for this project. This work would not be possible without them.

For official information please see:

For more information about our research on the human dimensions of the PNMS, please contact Rebecca Gruby at