The Department Of Marine & Wildlife Resources

The Department Of Marine & Wildlife Resources

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Observing Community- based Fisheries Management Program Villages & Discussions with our Grantors Kathy Hollar, E Flinn Curren and Ruth CB Utzurrum. Villages visited were Alofau from the East and Matu'u & Faganeanea Village from the West side of American Samoa. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Community Outreach Program at Amaua & Auto Village

All life on Earth is connected to the ocean and it's inhabitants. The more you learn about the issues facing this vital system, the more you'll want to help ensure it's health then share the knowledge to educate and inspire others. Community Outreach Program gives the Community an opportunity to get involved and become good stewardship in preserving their natural resources that they can sustainably maintain and harvest in the future. Empowering our Communities that Conserving our Reefs we'll restore abundance and return sustainable fishing within our Village Marine Protected Areas of American Samoa!

Different Types of  Marine Protected Area's  Presentation
Photos: Faleselau Tuilagi

Maina Bird Eradication Presentation
Photos: Faleselau Tuilagi 

 " Our Reef, Our Resources, Our Future".

Monday, February 1, 2016

Sea Level Rise In American Samoa

American Samoa has a tropical climate moderated by southeast trade winds. There is minimal variation in seasonal temperature. American Samoa has a rainy season from November to April and a dry season from May to October. Typhoons are common from December to March, and it is predicted that these will increase as a result of climate change. Climate Change, specifically sea-level rise, directly impacts American Samoa by increasing flooding or drought conditions. There are limited natural freshwater resources in American Samoa and these may be adversely affected by a rise in the level of saltwater penetration under the island caused by sea level rise.

 Sea level rise in Nu’uuli, perhaps the most significant negative effect higher global temperatures is the rise in sea levels resulting from the thermal expansion (warming causes seawater to expand) of the oceans and melting of ice-caps. It is projected that sea levels will rise by as much as 5 mm per year over the next 100 years as a result of global warming. Utilizing the coarse data currently available to the territory, the American Samoa Coastal Zone Management division developed projection of the areas of Tutuila that may be impacted by a meter rise in sea level. Across the island critical sections of primary roads as well as private and public structures may be affected. The village of Nu’uuli and the airport, in particular, are expected to be heavily impacted. Large portions of the airport runway and most of Coconut Point may become inundated by seawater. Sea level rise, combined with erosion of the coast and reef, could seriously disrupt transportation to and around the islands, and reduce public access to critical services such as the hospital. 

Photo Courtesy: Alice Lawrence

Climate change will impact coral reefs and coastal communities through the effects of sea level rise, changes in storm and rainfall frequency and intensity, increased sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification. Models and vulnerability assessments can prepare communities for potential impacts through planning for climate resiliency. A climate resilient community is better prepared to effectively protect people, society, culture and resources from a changing climate.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

On Tutuila Island, there’s a legend about the atule (bigeye scad) that appear in Fagasa Bay. Years ago, the Polynesian navigator Liava’a sailed to Tutuila in search of the pure waters of Fagasa. The boat accidently departed while his daughter, Sina, was still ashore collecting fresh water.

When Liava’a realized this later, he became enraged and threw his entire crew into the sea with orders for them to return to Fagasa, find Sina and protect her forever. To expedite their return to Fagasa, the men were transformed into dolphins that then herded a school of atule to shore to make certain all who cared for Sina would be well fed. Sina was adopted by the family of High Chief (HC) Lilio in Fagasa Village. Liava’a, however, never gave up his search for Sina and years later they were briefly reunited.

Tradition holds that, upon the death of Liava’a and Sina, their memories were forever preserved in special stones that are protected to this day by HC Lilio who is responsible for all events related to the atule harvest, thereby preserving the village’s continuing appreciation for the generous gift of these fish. The tradition continues. When atule arrive in Fagasa, an ava ceremony is held in appreciation for this bounty. The stones are cleaned and when the time is right, the villagers carry coconut fronds into the water to herd the fish into the shallows where they are collected in enu baskets which are emptied into the ola basket."

Fagasa is one of the Village- Marine Protected Area Village within our Community- based Fishery Management Program.  " Our Reefs - Our Resources - Our Future"

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Department of Marine & Wildlife Resources Community- based Fisheries Management Program held a four (4) day workshop last week from September 15-18th 2015. This workshop is to enhance marine stewardship, management and conservation of marine conservation of marine resources with the establishment of Village Marine Protected Areas. The workshop was also to inform communities of marine research results, available assistance provide by our environment partners, and encourage appropriate enforcement mechanisms needed for our Village Marine Protected Areas.

On behalf of our Director of Marine & Wildlife Resources Dr. Ruth Matagi- Tofiga, Community- based Fisheries Management Program Manager Saumaniafaese Uikirifi and Staff we would like to thanked all our partners who presented and share their service towards our communities,Department of Commerce, American Samoa Power Authority, National Park Service. Also to the Village Marine Protected Areas Mayors & Officers we greatly appreciate your collaboration and participation, thanks also to the staff of the Department of Marine & Wildlife Resources for assisting us with our Community Monitoring Workshop. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

American Samoa Government Agencies Clean- up to help prevent Dengue Fever outbreak. Great Job to our Department of Marine & Wildlife Resources Team!

[photos: Maria Vaofanua]

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Summer - time to explore

The school year has come to an end and it's time to finally enjoy the summer months.  Invest in a mask and snorkel set at Cost-U-Less (<$40), Tropik Traders or Samoa Sports and explore the beauty of marine life that surrounds our islands.  We live on an island where your front and back yard is the Pacific Ocean.  Ever heard of the Hawaiian fish, Humuhumunukunukuapua'a?  Yes, we have it here.  Locally, it's called a sumu and commonly known as the Wedgetail Triggerfish.  See the manini (Convict tang, Acanthurus triostegus) in action, swimming in a school along our reef.  It would be unlikely for you to come out of the water without sighting our alogo (Blue-lined surgeonfish, Acanthurus lineatus).  Explore the diversity of our corals that shelter and provide food for our local fish.  The corals protect our coastlines and have endured high temperatures from Climate Change.  Although, some coral species aren't as resilient as others around the island.  Join canoe paddling in the evening at the DDW (Don't Drink the Water) in Utulei.  If you aren't comfortable in the water or don't know how to swim, contact the American Samoa Swimming Association for lessons.  The weather has finally cleared up so enjoy the sun and go swimming!

Blue-lined Surgeonfish, A. lineatus
Wedgetail Triggerfish, R. rectangulus
Hawaii's Humuhumunukunukuapua'a
Convict tang, A. triostegus

Coral reef in Faga'alu

Monday, April 27, 2015

Coral Bleaching in American Samoa

What is Coral Bleaching?

When corals get stressed by abnormal conditions, they will expel the zooxanthellae (an microscopic algae that lives within the cells of the coral which helps the coral to survive). Zooxanthellae provide the coral with many essential nutrients that are then used by the coral to its calcium carbonate skeleton. In return, the coral provides protection for the algae as well as the compounds necessary for photosynthesis. It is impossible for the coral to survive too long without its algae.

Corals are very sensitive animals for them to thrive, the water must be warm, but not too warm, relatively clear, saline, nutrients poor, and be in shallow waters to get plenty of sunlight. Any small changes in these requirements and the corals will likely get stressed. They may tolerate change, but not for too long. 

Once they bleach, the corals are basically starving themselves. If conditions return to normal relatively quickly, corals can regain their zooxanthellae and survive. But the stress occurred also may lead to deceased productivity and growth, and increased likelihood to disease. If the stressful factor remains constant for quite some time it decrease the chance of corals to bounce back and recover.

One of the major findings indicated a mild coral bleaching event in American Samoa. Except for Ta'u and Rose Atoll, around 10% of the coral colonies between 3 and 6 m deep territory- wide, presented signs of bleaching, ranging from pale to stark white due to persistent warm waters. The bleaching seems to mostly impact certain species of fast growing corals. Survey results indicate that the coral bleaching event is mostly happening on the reef flats. Widespread but generally light coverage of partial bleaching has been documented for several coral species to a depth of approximately 40ft from Matu'u near the mouth of Pago Pago Harbor and westward to Leone Bay and Seetaga. It is likely that this pattern can be observed island wide. There are sites that have high bleaching because they have branching  corals that are much more susceptible to stress. Over- all, probably less than 10% of the corals in the reef flats are experiencing bleaching. Monitoring of the bleaching event continues, though there is little that can be done to reverse the process immediately. To reduce downtrend impacts of bleaching events it is recommended to carefully manage other stressors such as land- base sources of pollution, water contamination , over- fishing , and other factors that contributes to coral reef degradation.

Will the corals recover?

Only time will tell, temperature have been gradually falling but we have yet to determine if they have been decreasing quickly enough. It will take months to fully survey and determine the extent of coral bleaching in American Samoa as well as to document incidences of disease and mortality due to this heat - stress. Coral bleaching is a tragedy for our territory whom many depend on the reefs for their food and livelihood. Immediate and intensive management is required to try and help our reefs by recovering coral bleaching to a more healthier reef.