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Dear Editor,

I support the bold efforts by the Governor and Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR) to rebuild local fish stocks in American Samoa. There has been a drastic decline in numbers and sizes of nearshore fish over the years, particularly for sharks and large fish species.

The Governor’s recent Executive Order (002-2012) now prohibits the catch or possession of all shark species as well three fish species: humphead wrasse, bumphead parrotfish, and giant grouper.  This action is critical to the long-term survival of these species so that they are still here for the next generation of Samoans.

This management action targets specific large species that are either naturally rare or have been fished-out.  In either case, the result is the same -- as their numbers decrease, they cannot produce enough young to sustain their populations, so they could completely disappear in American Samoa.  They are close to that now.

As a former resident of American Samoa for nearly 20 years, I served as Chief Biologist at DMWR or the National Park of American Samoa.  During that time I saw few sharks or large fish whenever I dove or snorkeled in nearshore waters.  It is clear to me that the best scientific evidence detailed by DMWR and others supports the Governor’s decision.

Peter Craig