The Republic of Palau is an island nation in the western North Pacific. In the early 2000s at least 10 grouper spawning sites were known from Palau, according to fisher interviews, with several more suspected (Sadovy, 2007). Palau is one of relatively few Pacific countries where both government (national) and traditional management of fish spawning aggregations has been introduced (for early history see Johannes et al. 1999).
In Palau, once-abundant groupers in aggregations were the targets of seasonal fisheries since the 1960s-1970s, after which fishers reported that catches from aggregations, mainly Plectropomus areolatus, Epinephelus polyphekadion and E. fuscoguttatus, dropped from 100’s to 10’s of kg per daily fishing trip. Increasing commercial use and the international live reef fish trade (LRFT) to China in the 1980s placed increasingly heavy extraction pressures on these three valued grouper species, as well as on the Napoleon wrasse, Cheilinus undulatus. In the 1990s, Palau was one of the first countries to abandon the LRFT, partly due to declines in grouper aggregations, and was among the earliest to implement protection measures in the 1990s. Aggregation surveys continued from the 1990s into the 2000s (Palau Conservation Society, 2010).