DMWR secures funding to conduct education program in Ta’u
Through a grant proposal, funds have been secured to run a ‘hands-on’ experiential education program with Ta’u High School, in Manu’a, which is titled ‘Exploring Muliava from a Ta`u Perspective’.
This is according to Alice Lawrence, fisheries biologist at the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR).
Three week-long modules will be taught to 25 students from grades 9-12 (ages 15-18 years), in addition to any interested community members. “The aim of the project is to introduce students to environmental projects and Western scientific research and management approaches, in addition to discussing the traditional and oral histories associated with Muliava and the Manu’a Islands,” Lawrence explained.
The education program comes two years after DMWR completed a project based around Muliava/Rose Atoll.
The main aim of that project, said Lawrence, “was to provide the opportunity for the people of Manu’a to visit the atoll and to capture the stories and information about the atoll for educational purposes.”
Rose Atoll, often referred to as Rose Island or Motu o Manu by the residents of nearby Manu’a Islands, is an oceanic atoll within American Samoa that is an uninhabited wildlife refuge. It is the southernmost point belonging to the United States and contains the largest populations of giant clams, nesting seabirds, and rare reef fish in all of American Samoa. The Rose Atoll Maine National Monument that lies on the outstanding islands of the Atoll is managed cooperatively by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the American Samoa Government.
Lawrence explained that Muliava/ Rose Atoll is “culturally important for the people of Manu’a and they have a strong affinity to the atoll since it was their traditional fishing ground.”
She added, “although the distance, need, and change in the socio-cultural setting had lessened the number of visitations to the area, there is still that strong cultural affinity and ownership of the area by the Manu’a people, led by their chiefs.”
In March 2011, thirty-five Manu’a community members including ranking chiefs, school teachers, and students, took part in a two-day boat trip to Muliava/Rose Atoll.
Lawrence explained that the ASCC Samoan Studies Institute was also contracted to undertake the research and develop educational resources, including a report in English and Samoan, along with a two-page bilingual brochure which summarizes the information from the report. (See report in future editions of Samoa News).
In addition, the group also produced a thirty-minute educational DVD video documentary and an educational color poster was designed and printed by an independent contractor.
The project was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) Marine National Monument Program.
More information on either one of the two projects can be obtained by contacting DMWR’s Education Division directly at 633-4456 or visiting their office behind the Fagatogo Marketplace.
EDUCATION PROGRAM: MODULES
Module 1: (Ocean) will cover coral reef ecosystems, identification of coral reef organisms, coral reef fisheries, and the monitoring and data recording methods. Lawrence said the module aims to establish a coral reef monitoring program, which can be implemented as part of the school curriculum every year, with the data submitted to Reef Check USA to be included in the Annual Status Report on the World’s Coral Reefs.
Module 2: (Geology and Climate Change) will address island formation, geologic time and sea-level fluctuation, and impacts of climate change.
Module 3: (Water Quality Monitoring) will provide an understanding of the natural and anthropogenic inputs that can affect Ta’u’s freshwater, and assist with local government monitoring efforts.
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