KOROR CITY, Palau — In the early days of his dive shop, cradled by an ocean flush with giant clams, Sam Scott and his crew became known for agitating against Chinese vessels and their hauls of shark fins.

Situated adjacent to a longlining operation, Scott would marshal his fellow conservationists and they would siege boats entering the harbour, tear down fins hanging from rafters and hurl them back into the deep sea.

It was the early 1990s, more than a decade before the Republic of Palau would adopt the same stand and formally establish itself as the globe's first shark sanctuary. Now, the palm-fringed archipelago in the remote North Pacific is on the verge of extending protection to all marine life in its 600,000 square kilometres of waters.

The legislation would ban destructive foreign commercial fishing practices such as longlining, a technique where baited hooks are attached at intervals to a main line, for its ocean territory the size of France. It would permit 20 per cent to remain open solely for domestic fishing and tourism.

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