US based groups support Fagatele changes
Seven U.S. based marine sanctuary groups have voiced “strong support” for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) plan to expand Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary (FBNMS) to include five additional sites and change the name to the American Samoa National Marine Sanctuary.
In a January 6 letter addressed to FBNMS superintendent Ms. Gene Brighouse the groups commended FBNMS for preparing this long-overdue update to NOAA’s management plan for American Samoa's waters, “and in particular, we applaud your efforts to educate sanctuary constituents about upcoming changes in a way consistent with fa’a-Samoa.”
“Public participation is a hallmark of the sanctuary program, and we look forward to your continued engagement and interaction with local matai and other interested parties,” the group says. “Thank you for your ongoing efforts to improve the health of our ocean.”
“We are confident that expanding sanctuary conservation and management in the waters of American Samoa will help restore fish populations, maintain populations of rare or protected species, expand education and science initiatives, and offer new economic opportunities in the territory,” the letter continues.
The marine sanctuary groups believe "networks of marine protected areas that can help maintain resilience in both natural and human communities" are needed to provide redundancy at multiple levels to ensure the catastrophic loss of any particular site does not jeopardize the entire ecosystem or the human communities dependent on healthy ocean resources for their livelihoods.
Leaders of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, Stellwagen Alive, Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association, Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Olympic Coast Alliance, Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys and Cordell Marine Sanctuary signed the letter.
Yesterday was the last day to submit comments on the proposed rule although there is a call from others to extend the comment period for another 30 days.
Congressman Faleomavaega Eni issued an invitation to the public, on Thursday, to attend a town hall meeting at 4p.m. next Wednesday at the Fono Guest Fale, so they can voice their views and opinions on the NOAA proposal.
He says he intends to transmit all testimonies received during the town hall meeting to be considered part of the NOAA rule-making record.
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