Palau senators are considering a request by Japan for Okinawa fishermen to have access to the Pacific nation's waters, despite a fishing ban from December 2020.
The Marianas Variety reports that Palau senators have recognised the reliance of fishermen from Japan's Okinawa Island on Palau's Exclusive Economic Zone for catching skipjack tuna.
A Japanese delegation reportedly brought the Okinawans' plight to a recent regional fisheries conference in Hawaii, saying the traditional fishermen will lose their livelihood if Palau closes its waters to commercial fishing.
Palau is to implement its National Marine Sanctuary in 2020.
However a resolution adopted by a majority of the senators supports the government of Japan's request to allow vessels to continue its commercial fishing operation in Palau's EEZ.
The Senate Committee on Resources, Commerce, Trade and Development stated that Japan has assisted Palau in various infrastructure development and capacity building that it should "reciprocate" by allowing should accorded with "fishing rights."
Palau's President Tommy Remengesau said that his government was open to further discussions about the matter, but insisted he wouldn't compromise the integrity of the Palau sanctuary.
A statement from the president's office said "Palau is rightly concerned about the traditional fishing practices of our Pacific neighbors, in Okinawa and elsewhere.
"We are willing to look within our law for options to assist them and protect their way of life, including through existing mechanisms developed in cooperation with the important Parties to the Nauru Agreement."