map-of-palau-pacific-ocean

The Micronesian country of Palau, which encompasses 250 islands in an area the size of France, just became a marine sanctuary.

At a recent U.N. oceans conference, President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. declared commercial fishing illegal in an attempt to protect the vibrant sea life that makes Palau a magnet for Asian vacationers. “I always say the economy is our environment and the environment is our economy,” he said. (Wise dude.)

To make up for the lost revenue, Palau will tout its appeal for ecotourism, snorkelers, and scuba divers. Adds Australia Network News:

Mr. Remengesau says a dead shark is worth several hundred dollars, but a live shark is worth $1.9 million in tourism during its life span … “We’re not just closing our waters and throwing away the key,” he said.

There’s just one small burp in the plan: Palau only has one boat to enforce the ban in a 200-mile area. Let’s hope it’s really fast.