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AS-EPA moves headfirst with Litter Enforcement

Source: ASEPA media release

The new Litter Law of American Samoa called Keep American Samoa Beautiful Act or merely KASB Act, authorizes certain government agencies and departments to issue litter citations. Government agencies and departments include AS-EPA, ASPA, DMWR, DOH, DPS, Parks and Recreation, and Samoan Affairs.

As the lead agency for the KASB Act, the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency (AS-EPA) “dove headfirst” to fully enforce the Litter Law since the beginning of 2017.

AS-EPA appreciates the proactive efforts from some of the public and community establishments in taking good care of the environment, and the AS-EPA’s enforcement team has played its role to ensure that everyone complies with laws and regulations set forth by the Fono.

Since the inception of the KASB Act, AS-EPA Enforcement Officers have issued 51 litter citations and are now awaiting court proceedings.

According to the AS-EPA Enforcement Officers who were part of the enforcement team, people were generally aware that it is against the law and outright wrong to litter, but for some reason they still discarded whatever trash they had on the ground.

It is the mindset and behavior that some people have, which really needs to change immediately — and that is why AS-EPA is always on the radio, TV, in the newspaper, and in schools talking about the issue of littering. It is also the reason why AS-EPA will continue to aggressively enforce our litter laws until we change people’s behaviors, said another enforcement officer.  

AS-EPA Director Ameko Pato emphasizes to the community how we collaboratively, as the caretakers of these islands call home, should be responsible for the health and wellbeing of our environment. Unfortunately, we are still faced with behavioral challenges.

“Catching those who litter our islands is tricky. Litterers are typically the young and grown-ups, an entrenched group of people who already know they are engaged in socially unacceptable or illegal behavior but refuse to abide,” Director Pato said. “If you are a person responsible for littering in any place, you are obligated by law to keep the place litter free.

“This applies to any public or private place which may include the precincts of a shopping center, a market place, school campuses, public parks, bus stops, businesses, private properties or public roads. 

“Taking the time to put your trash in a bin or trash can after consuming a beverage or food item, will help enormously in keeping our islands beautiful and may save you some money from litter fines.”

The director further stated that he would like to acknowledge the support of Honorable Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Lt. Governor Lemanu P. Mauga in his department’s efforts to Keep American Samoa Beautiful.

“Without their unwavering support and commitment to maintaining a clean and healthy environment for our people, my agency’s efforts would not have been as successful as it has been,” he said.

AS-EPA continues to move forward with litter enforcement and would like to thank the community for their support and cooperation.