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AS ranks behind CNMI and Guam when it comes to protecting coastal waters

fili@samoanews.com

American Samoa is ranked 10th among the coastal states and territories in safeguarding its marine resources, according to a recently released study conducted by the Marine Conservation Institution and Mission Blue  - both based in the U.S.
 
The two organizations say that the 2013 report  is the “first-ever quantitive, scientifically rigorous national ranking of states’ protection of their ocean waters.”
 
Titled, ‘SeaStates: How Well Does Your State Protect Your Coastal Waters?’ the report shows most states and territories are failing to safeguard “our nation’s marine life, seafood and coasts,” the organizations said in a media statement, which was  released along with the report.
 
“Despite so many threats to their health, states are failing to protect our ocean waters,” said Dr. Lance Morgan, president of the Marine Conservation Institute. “No-take marine protected areas are the gold-standard for healthy oceans, but far too few states and territories are designating them.”
 
The executive summary of the 30-page report covering 28 coastal states and territories pointed out that the “best-protected” states and territories are Hawaii, California and the US Virgin Islands - ranking in the top three.  Hawaii protects 22.94% of its state marine waters as no-take reserves; California 8.74% and USVI 5.69%.
 
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands ranks 7th and Guam ranks 8th for safeguarding their marine ecosystems through the use of no-take reserves. Washington state is ranked 9th and American Samoa ranks 10th, according to data in the report.
 
American Samoa’s shows 0.09% protected marine areas, or no-take marine protected ares. However, the report says that American Samoa is poised to expand its ocean protections. “Rose Atoll Marine National Monument will ban all commercial fishing and more tightly manage non-commercial and recreational fishing in its territorial and US waters,” the report states. “The proposal recommends prohibiting all fishing surrounding Rose Atoll itself, potentially raising American Samoa’s no-take area to almost 8%.”
 
According to the report, the Marine Conservation Institute and Mission Blue used publicly available information for its study, which found that few states and territories provide strong protection for marine ecosystems. “There is much room for improvement,” it says.
 
“Marine biologists recommend creating strong marine protected areas (MPAs) to safeguard life within them and to benefit people outside them,” according to the report, which can be found on www.marine-conservation.org along with specific data on each coastal state and territory.



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