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First haul: 950 pounds of trash

The Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR) held the first day of their ‘Coastal Cleanup’ last Friday morning at Utulei Beach Park, beginning at the East end of the park and extending all the way to the tank farm in Gatavai, with trash being removed from both the land and water.

This event was undertaken with the assistance of the American Samoa Aquatics Agency (ASAA) and other American Samoa Government agencies, and was also done to assist the ASAA with their swim training classes, ensuring that the seabed and beach is clear of trash and marine debris for the participants, according to DMWR.

 The event served to launch the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) -funded Marine Debris community outreach project which is being coordinated by DMWR.

“This event is the beginning of our effort to cleanup American Samoa,” said the Director of DMWR, Ray Tulafono. “We received a grant from NOAA to clean up what is left over from the 2009 tsunami, and have also received a request from the ASAA to start the cleanup at Utulei Beach Park. We plan on doing this every month, going to different villages. My hope is that everyone will pitch in at this time and start cleaning up their villages, to help cleanup American Samoa,” said Tulafono.

The project has multiple goals, which include:

*            Remove the debris that remains in the marine environment following the 2009 tsunami.

*            Address marine and coastal trash around Tutuila through community cleanup events by specific village-based ‘Trash Free Territory’ groups.

*            Raise awareness about the sources, type and impact of coastal and marine trash in American Samoa.

*            Recommend best practices to protect the coastal and marine environment in American Samoa.

According to DMWR Marine Project Manager Alice Lawrence, the total weight of trash that was collected on Friday amounted to 950 lbs. There were 600 lbs of trash pulled from the water, that included metal objects such as tire rims, chains and small boat anchors. There were also other objects that included cinder blocks, tires and many beer bottles.

On land, there was a total of 350 lbs. of trash picked up, which included a lot of soda cans, beer cans, broken glass, all sorts of paper, plastic bags and plastic water bottles.

There were approximately 65 people out for this cleanup day, from agencies that included the National Park Service of American Samoa, the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency, American Samoa Power Authority, Department of Commerce, Department of Public Works, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the ASAA and the DMWR.

In November of last year, the DMWR started a survey of Tutuila, locating areas along the coast where there were large pieces of debris such as tin roofing and appliances. The ASAA requested that Utulei Beach be put on first priority to kick off the ‘Coastal Cleanup’ due to the high activity in the park, according to ASAA head, Zero Iaulualo.

“If anyone wishes to get involved with the ‘Coastal Cleanup’, or if any other agencies want to assist with the effort, you can contact me at the DMWR office at 633-4456 or email me at,” said Lawrence.