Pacific News Briefs

compiled by Samoa News staff

SAMOA GOVERNMENT GEARS UP FOR 2-SAMOA TALKS

Samoa will host the 2017 Inter-island Samoa talks in Apia with American Samoa in early October.

Originally the talk was planned for early next month but American Samoa has communicated to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi requesting to postpone the meeting to October to allow the territorial government to finalize issues from their end to be tabled in the upcoming meeting.

And as one of the three central government agencies, the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet, (M.P.M.C.) is tasked as the implementing agency to organize the event. In the last few months a series of meetings with government stakeholders have since taken place to prepare the agenda for the upcoming event with our neighboring US territory.

Among the long outstanding issues that is expected to be addressed in the two-day brainstorming session are Trade and Economic Integration, Agriculture, Immigration, Health, Education, Transport, Telecommunication, and Tourism.

In terms of exports, the Agricultural Sector remains optimistic that their American Samoa counterparts will assist with a request from Apia to the United States Department of Agriculture to certify the two mobile abattoirs and the soon to be build permanent and Central Abattoir that will open up the lucrative meat export markets to the United States via American Samoa.

Then there is the Tui-Samoa fiber optic cable that the Prime Minister is hoping for the territorial government to come to the negotiating table and become a part of the Tui-Samoa family, which now includes neighboring Pacific Island countries. The target is for improved telecommunication connectivity at affordable rates for residents of the 2-Samoas.

Immigration issues which include the current reciprocal permit regime between the two countries is another issue expected to be revisited during the talks in bids to minimize the red tape in processing entry permits.

And of course, the long awaited trade agreement that would be mutually beneficial to Samoa and American Samoa.

As a lead up to the talks, Tuilaepa reiterated that under these circumstances, “it is imperative for the two Samoas to try as much as we can to cooperate in every area available.

“We are already doing this successfully in the number of sectors, and with mixed success in the various other facets of our engagement.

“However we obviously need to do more and we must continue to collaborate and cooperate in working towards goals that would mutually benefit our islands.”

[Source: M.P.M.C. Press Secretary]

 INTERIOR FUNDS $1M FOR NATURAL & CULTURAL RESOURCE PROTECTION

Interior Acting Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Nikolao Pula has made available $1,003,787 for natural and cultural resource protection in the U.S. Insular Areas.  The funds will support a wide variety of initiatives, which include watershed management, GIS skills development, radar monitoring and marine protected areas surveillance, youth education in conservation management, and environmental law-enforcement training.  These projects support sustainable use of natural and cultural resources in the U.S. territories and freely associated states.

 “People in the islands depend on the strength and viability of their natural resources for sustenance, and physical and socio-economic well-being,” said Pula. “Even small amounts of funding can yield great impacts, and this year’s recipients successfully demonstrate the wide range of areas where assistance is needed.”

The FY2017 natural and cultural resource projects include:

AMERICAN SAMOA

The American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources will use $94,906 to:

1) Coordinate efforts in the Faga’alu, Vatia, and Nu’uuli Watersheds, each prioritized by either the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force or the territory.  Overfishing, climate change, land-based pollution, and population pressure have been identified as the four primary threats to natural resources in these areas.

2) Continue development of rain gardens and other best practices to manage storm water runoff in the territory by collaborating heavily with federal, territorial, and academics as well as village councils. 

3) Provide GIS mapping training and certification to better inform management of priorities across watersheds, raingardens, marine protected areas, managed and unmanaged areas on the island.

4) Set up integrated radar systems to monitor and deter poaching in the Tutuila Marine Protected Areas.

Additional funds will go to CNMI, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands for various projects.

U.S. TERRITORIES

In a U.S. Territories grant the National Coral Reef Management Fellowship Program was granted $200,000 for 2017-2018 to help place a Coral Fellow in each of the four U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the USVI, and the CNMI.  The Coral Fellows program was identified by the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force members (which include the governors of these U.S. territories) as one of its highest priorities for funding.  The collaborative fellowship program, which is administered by the National Coral Reef Institute of Nova Southeastern University in Florida seeks to build next generation leaders and capacity for effective local coral reef ecosystem management.  NOAA will provide an additional $400,000 for travel, training, and development of the fellows and provide for additional fellows to be placed in Hawaii, Florida and Puerto Rico.

Various Pacific Island regional grants were also made the amount of $300,00+.

All funding for cultural and natural resources protection and management was provided under what was formerly called the Coral Reef Initiative and is available under CFDA# 15.875 at https://www.grants.gov/. All four U.S. territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands as well as the three freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau are eligible to apply.

(Source: DOI media release)

FIRST TIME AMBASSADOR OF POLAND TO SAMOA ACCEPTED

His Highness, Head of State Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi on Monday (Samoa Time) accepted the Letter of Credence for the new Ambassador-designate of Poland to Samoa, a first ever for Poland — His Excellency Zbigniew Gniatkowski. The credential ceremony was held at the Head of State's residence at Tuaefu.

In his welcoming address, His Highness touched on the closer friendship and cooperation between Samoa and Poland. "Samoa is thankful for the assistance from Poland through its contribution in the European Development Fund for the Pacific region.”

The Head of State said, "Through this assistance Samoa has benefitted through the implementation of various projects in the different sectors of development for the economy.

"Samoa and Poland further share a common interest in the areas of international peace, security and as well as climate change which is of a particular concern to Samoa as a small island state.

"In this connection we are pleased to see Poland hosting COP24 in 2018,” he said.

His Excellency Gniatkowski in his address said it is a privilege to be the first ever Ambassador of his country to Samoa. "I am fully confident that this greatness is reflected in many aspects of your Nation's character, love for freedom and democracy, strong religious beliefs cherished by Samoan people as well as durable culture and heritage, sports achievements and unbroken commitments related to the country's stable development and the world's future.

"I believe there is scope to further strengthen the ties between our countries and our societies will benefit from our mutual relations."

Gniatkowski has held the post of Foreign Minister's Special Envoy to Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu since 2015 and was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Poland to New Zealand in 2014. He headed the Press and Media European Commission Representation in Warsaw from 2008 to 2014 and was the Press Counselor for Poland in the European Union in Brussels from 2004 - 2008. He began his working career in media with the Polish Television Lublin in 1994.

[Source: M.P.M.C. Press Secretary]

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