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DMWR finalizes plans for Marine Debris clean up day

The Department of Marine Wildlife Resources (DMWR) will be having a ‘Marine Debris Cleanup Day’ at Utulei Beach Park on Friday January 13. according to the DMWR Marine Project Manager, Alice Lawrence.

The project will be conducted by the DMWR in collaboration with the American Samoa Aquatics Agency said Lawrence. “Activities will include a land-based cleanup of the beach area, as well as marine based cleanup using snorkeling and SCUBA diving equipment. The inner water activities will be restricted to experienced snorkelers and divers so as to reduce damage to the coral reef,” she said.

Lawrence noted that this event will serve to launch the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) funded Marine Debris community outreach project, which is currently being coordinated by DMWR.

The project has two phases: The first phase aims to remove the remaining debris left by the 2009 tsunami. It has already begun, with surveys which are locating and recording the marine debris around the coast of Tutuila. The removal of this material will be undertaken by salvage contractors between January and March of this year.

Lawrence went on to say that the second phase of the project will run for 12 months and aims to address marine and coastal trash around Tutuila through community cleanup events by ten village- based ‘Trash Free Territory’ groups. This phase will involve collaborating with the resource agencies and existing relevant projects.

“One of the key purposes of this project is to raise awareness about the sources, types and impacts of coastal and marine trash in American Samoa and to recommend and facilitate the implementation of best practices to protect the coastal and marine environment from trash,” she said.

This past November, DMWR announced that they were going to start surveying and documenting areas where there may be large debris such as appliances, metal roofing, tires, or any other man made or natural materials that may hurt or damage our coasts or coral reefs, with the intention on removing the materials.

The head of ASAA, Zero Iaulualo, requested in November, that Utulei Beach Park be put on first priority for cleanup in the DMWR project.

To find out more about the ‘Marine Debris Cleanup Day’ at Utulei Beach Park on Friday January 13, or the ongoing project, you may contact Alice Lawrence at the DMWR Office in Fagagtogo at 633-4456.