25 Jun 2015

Palau takes care on explosive response to illegal fishing

12:46 pm on 25 June 2015

Palau's President says his country's policy of burning foreign vessels caught illegally fishing in its waters is conducted in a way that doesn't hurt the environment.

In the last month, Palau law enforcement officers have caught and burned a number of Vietnamese-flagged fishing boats, incarcerated the ships' captains and sent crew members home.

Illegal fishing vessels burnt off Palau waters

Illegal fishing vessels burnt off Palau waters Photo: RNZI/Pew Trust

Around 20 Vietnamese boats have been caught by Palau since last year.

President Tommy Remengesau says his government is sending a message to poachers that Palau will not tolerate the illegal plundering of its marine resources.

He says the burning has minimal impact on the ocean.

"These are wooden boats to begin with, so we empty the fuel and all the oil - just make sure that there's just enough there to light up the boat. Whatever floating debris, we clean up after that."