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Press Release – Fisheries Development Projects are Top Priority for American Samoa (6 August 2021)

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HONOLULU (06 August 2021) The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced yesterday the approval of a marine conservation plan (MCP) for American Samoa. This agency decision is effective for three years, from July 25, 2021, through July 24, 2024.
 
The latest plan outlines objectives and priorities to maximize sustainable fisheries benefits through fisheries infrastructure, fisheries research and fisheries development for the people of American Samoa. Fishing activities constitute an integral part of the Samoan culture and fisheries development is important for the food security and economic stability of the territory’s 55,000 inhabitants.
 
The American Samoa MCP contains the following conservation and management objectives:
  1. Maximize social and economic benefits through sustainable fisheries.
  2. Support quality scientific research to assess and manage fisheries.
  3. Promote an ecosystem approach in fisheries management.
  4. Recognize the importance of island culture and traditional fishing in managing fishery resources and foster opportunities for participation.
  5. Promote education and outreach activities and regional collaboration regarding fisheries conservation.
  6. Encourage development of technologies and methods to achieve the most effective level of enforcement and to ensure safety at sea.
 
Several projects were ranked as very high priority, such as fishing infrastructure improvements to docks and ramps, reviving fishermen’s co-ops and developing fish storage and holding facilities in Manu‘a, and conducting a comprehensive economic valuation of tuna fisheries to the American Samoa economy.
 
Projects funded under previous MCPs include bottomfish data collection efforts, purchase and installation of large capacity ice machines to provide fresh fish for sale locally and export, and the Malaloa dock extension to support the longline fishery, among others.
 
U.S. regulation allows Speci­fied Fishing Agreements (50 CFR 665.819) that offer a portion of a U.S. Participating Territory’s ­fishing quota in exchange for funds to support projects in the territory’s MCP. At its June 2021 meeting, the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council reviewed the plan and confirmed its consistency with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and applicable fishery ecosystem plans. The governor of American Samoa then submitted the MCP July 21, 2021 to NMFS for review and approval.
 
 
Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council: Secretary of Commerce appointees from nominees selected by American Samoa, CNMI, Guam and Hawai‘i governors: Michael Dueñas, Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Association (Guam) (vice chair); Howard Dunham, commercial fisherman (American Samoa) (vice chair); John Gourley, Micronesian Environmental Services (CNMI) (vice chair); Edwin Watamura, Waialua Boat Club (Hawai‘i) (vice chair); Monique Amani, business owner (Guam); Roger Dang, Fresh Island Fish Co. (Hawai‘i); and McGrew Rice, charter boat captain (CNMI). Designated state officials: Anthony Benavente, CNMI Dept. of Lands and Natural Resources; Suzanne Case, Hawai‘i Dept. of Land & Natural Resources; Chelsa Muña-Brecht, Guam Dept. of Agriculture; and Archie Soliai, American Samoa Dept. of Marine & Wildlife Resources (chair). Designated federal officials (voting): Michael Tosatto, NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office. Designated federal officials (nonvoting): David Hogan, U.S. Dept. of State; Brian Peck, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and RADM Matthew Sibley, USCG 14th District. 

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