Palau Horizon:  September 20, 2005
After successful mission to Tobi Island, crewmembers earn scuba diving certification

Koror— PSS President H.I. Remeliik were awarded PADI open water diver certificates in a ceremony held at Sam’s Tours in Malakal, following their successful completion of a PADI dive training course. Joedyn Padua of Sam’s Tours, a PADI IDC staff instructor, conducted the course with assistance from PADI assistant instructor Jr. Mendrez, also of Sam’s Tours. The program was brought about through the efforts of Capt. Ian Tervet, commander of the PSS President H.I. Remeliik, and Dermot Keane, general manager of Sam’s Tours following the successful mission to Tobi Island conducted by the crew of Remeliik with assistance from Sam’s Tours in June 2005.

On that mission, the patrol boat crew and volunteer Palauan dive guides from Sam’s Tours removed an estimated 3,000 feet of fishing net abandoned on the reefs by the Chinese fishing vessel Qun Hai that was previously arrested and seized by the patrol boat for fishing illegally off Tobi island. While the mission to remove the fishing net was a complete success unfortunately an estimated 20 or more turtles many of whom had come to Tobi to lay eggs are believed to have drowned in the time it took to mobilize the necessary qualified divers from Koror.

Following the mission to Tobi, Tervet noted that with the appropriate diving certification and equipment the patrol boat crew could have responded more rapidly, reducing the number of turtles lost and further minimizing damage to the Tobi’s reefs. On behalf of the Division of Marine Law Enforcement, Tervet again requested assistance and together with the Palau Conservation Society of which Sam’s Tours is a corporate sponsor, an innovative program was quickly developed to train and certify patrol boat crewmembers for scuba diving.

“We are proud of the H.I. Remeliik and her hard working crew and very grateful to Sam’s Tours for the tremendous support they have shown,” said Bureau of Public Safety Director Hazime Tellei. Sam’s Tours sponsored the entire $3,500 cost of the program on behalf of the Palau Conservation Society that included course materials, professional instruction and training dive trips. “As a corporate partner in conservation with PCS Sam’s Tours is committed to helping protect Palau’s precious resources. I am therefore very pleased that we could support Commander Tervet and crew of the Remeliik with this successful program. The patrol boat and her crew are Palau’s front line in protecting our marine resources and they fully deserve our complete support,” said Sam Scott, of Sam’s Tours.

With six members of the crew already qualified as PADI Open Water Scuba Divers and three more soon to finish, in addition to being better equipped to assist in protecting Palau’s reefs and resources the patrol boat crew members can now also perform underwater inspection and maintenance of the H.I Remeliik and help maintain the network of navigational marker buoys recently installed with assistance from the governments of Australia and the United States.

“It is a win-win situation for everyone” said Cmdr. Matt Brown of the Royal Australian Navy and maritime surveillance adviser to Palau. Joining the six patrol boat crewmembers at the awards ceremony were Hazime Tellei, director, Bureau of Public Safety; Ellender Ngirameketii, chief, Division of Marine Law Enforcement; Capt. Ian Tervet, commander H.I. Remeliik; Cmdr. Matt Brown, Royal Australian Navy; Sam Scott, president of Sam’s Tours; PADI instructor Joedyn Padua; and PADI assistant instructor Jr. Mendrez of Sam’s Tours.

For more information, contact the Division of Marine Law Enforcement at 680-488-5206.

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