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Agencies collaborate mapping Pago Harbor area

jeff@samoanews.com
Regional Social Scientist Arielle Levine from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Pacific Island Regional Office/Coral Reef Conservation Program during the ‘Coastal Use Mapping Workshop’ that began Thursday at the Fagatogo Market Place meeting Room. [photo: Jeff Hayner]

A two day ‘Coastal Use Mapping Workshop’ kicked off Thursday at the Fagatogo Market Place meeting room.

“We are mapping the Pago Harbor area three nautical miles out and this morning we have representatives from each of the villages around the harbor and also some fishermen,” said Local Project Coordinator from the American Samoa DMWR Alice Lawrence.

The project is one of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) and Pacific Services Center's (PSC) many projects, working in collaboration with the American Samoa Coastal Management Program (ASCMP), the American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR), the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency (AS-EPA).

“TFriday we are going to concentrate on the commercial, industrial, ports and the canneries as we are looking at mapping the shipping lanes. We will also be looking at more recreational and educational research activities. We have some really high tech equipment with us. This is collaboration with NOAA in the Pacific Island Region and also the PSC, who are specialists in mapping and working with communities to actually look at these areas. The main purpose is to make sure we know what is actually happening out there and so we can give this information back to the community,” she said.

According to information gathered during the workshop on what locations will be mapped, the American Samoa Coastal Use Mapping Project will focus on the Fagaloa area, or the extended Pago Pago Harbor region. The harbor is home to the widest range of ocean activities in American Samoa, including industrial activities, shipping, fishing, boating and recreation. For certain activities, maps will be created for the entire island of Tutuila. These are activities for which detailed data is already collected (spear-fishing and bottom fishing), or where locations are few and well known by resource users.

On the information discussed on what activities are being mapped, the mapping workshop will focus on the primary extractive, recreational and commercial/professional activities that take place in the Fagaloa region. This includes a wide range of fishing and gathering activities, boating, swimming, diving and snorkeling, shoreline recreation, shipping and transport, cruise ships, fish processing, research and educational activities. The spatial range and intensity of each use will be mapped and information will be collected on seasonality, economic importance, pulses in uses and cultural significance of various activities.

The project is designed to fill a critical information gap in ocean management by mapping significant human uses taking place in the near-shore marine environment. The project will use Participatory GIS (a tool that helps local resource users and stake holders participate directly in the creation of computerized maps) to obtain information regarding where extractive and non-extractive activities take place, where ocean use is most intense, how uses overlap, as well as seasonal, cultural and other aspects of different activities. The intent is to gain a better understanding of coastal and ocean uses directly from local experts to create maps of ocean uses that will better inform resource management. Data, maps and analytical products will be made available to territorial and federal agencies and to local community groups.

Primary funding for the project is from NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, with support from ASCMP and DMWR.



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