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Pacific News Briefs

Compiled by Samoa News staff

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Beneath the still blue Pacific Ocean, a threat is silently unraveling. Once-vibrant coral reefs teeming with fish life are suffering the impacts of bleaching and sea temperature increases. Tuvalu’s three reef islands and six atolls are made of reef platforms, and they are increasingly threatened by the impacts of climate change including sea-level rise.  

“I am from the beautiful island of Nui,” explains Talua Nivaga, youth activist and co-founder of the only environmental youth-led organization – Fuligafou, focusing on coral restoration initiatives. The NGO unites young people of all backgrounds through initiatives including coral restoration, women empowerment, and tree planting.  

Working together with the Tuvalu Coastal Adaptation Project (TCAP), Nivaga and his colleagues will inform locally led coral restoration efforts as part of the project’s community engagement activities.  

“When I was younger, I didn’t know what function corals played in the ocean and their significance. But now we work to raise awareness of the importance of coral restoration. We look at how we can preserve our ecosystems for the next generation.  

“Ensuring that youth are empowered and actively engaged and involved in our workshops is critical. We develop their understanding about the significant importance of corals and their capacity to protect them. Our strategy is also to engage youth in the coral planting work.” 

(UN Pacific Office)


Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata Radewagen took part in a Tuesday hearing of the Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security by invitation to participate in the congressional examination of U.S. Coast Guard acquisitions.

Delays in producing planned new cutters are affecting the allocation of Coast Guard resources and presence in the Indo-Pacific. Amata focused on the planned Offshore Patrol Cutter, which will eventually play a large role in the Pacific.

“Thank you to chairman Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) for the opportunity to be waived onto the committee for this hearing,” said Amata. “I represent American Samoa, in the South Pacific. Our largest industry is fishing, which is at threat from Chinese IUU fishing. A larger Coast Guard presence in American Samoa is the best deterrence from IUU incursions into our EEZ.”

In his statement, Gimenez said, “Bringing these cutters online on time and on budget will determine whether Coast Guard will be able to meet the growing demand for their assets, manpower, and expertise. Therefore, if we want to stem the flow of narcotics into our country, stop illegal fishing by the Chinese distance water fishing fleet, or maintain a consistent, credible presence in the Arctic to deter our geopolitical adversaries, the Coast Guard acquisitions programs must deliver what Congress tasks the service to do.”

(Press Release)


The father who initially told Auckland police he had no idea how his 8-month-old daughter received fatal abdominal injuries, but a week later told detectives: “I thought giving her a hiding would end my anger”, can now be named.

He is Vailo Sopo, and was jailed last month after being found guilty of murdering his 8-month-old daughter, Falute Vaila.

Justice Laura O’Gorman ordered Sopo to serve at least 17 years behind bars before being eligible to apply for parole.

Detective Inspector Adkin said no conviction will bring back an innocent life lost, but the man responsible has been held to account.

“This is yet another tragic reminder to us all about being aware of the signs a child is suffering from abuse,” he said.

(Stuff NZ)


The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai eruption "devastated" nearby seafloor life, a new study shows.

An oceanographer from the University of Rhode Island in the US learned the local ocean floor was blanketed in ash a few months after the eruption, decimating the animal populations.

Roxanne Beinart led a research cruise in the southern Pacific in April 2022, to research underwater biology living around deep-sea hot springs in the region.

She found her site of study covered in ash from the volcano's eruption, even 2.4 kilometres underwater.

"Having got to know this part of the world, the devastation was heartbreaking to witness, even if it was a natural event," Beinart said.

"This huge, dense ecosystem was almost entirely gone. There was just complete devastation."

The eruption of January 2022 devastated Tonga, and the island Kingdom is still recovering.

The study said although mass mortality of marine animals due to volcanic ash deposition has been seen before, in fossil form, it's rarely been documented in real time.

Beinart told the university she has no idea how the organisms there will fare when they return on their next expedition to the region.

At that time, she will be able to see how the ash has changed over time and what the recovery process looks like.

(RNZ Pacific)


A 58-year-old PNG national has been arrested in connection with the attempted shipment of 289 kilograms of cocaine from Port Moresby to Australia in April.

The Post Courier newspaper reported the man will be charged with 'dealing with a controlled substance'.

PNG police said investigations were continuing, with further arrests expected.

(RNZ Pacific)


Influenza cases in Samoa have been on the rise.

Samoa's Ministry of Health reported close to 1250 cases of influenza from April 29 to May 5.

About 1400 cases were reported from April 22 to 28.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson said the count is still below the alert threshold, despite a high number of infections.

The spokesperson has advised people with flu-like symptoms to practice preventative measures, like wearing masks.

(RNZ Pacific)


The Northern Marianas, Guam and American Samoa have received funding to help communities address stormwater and sewer infrastructure needs.

The US Environmental Protection Agency's grant funding is available to states to support projects in cities and towns that will strengthen their stormwater collection systems to be more resilient.

Bruno Pigott from the agency's water division said stormwater runoff is one of the biggest pollution challenges facing water ecosystems.

He said because it does not have to be paid back, this funding is especially effective in helping disadvantaged communities protect their waterways.

(RNZ Pacific)


Minimum wage in Cook Islands will increase from NZ$9 an hour to NZ$9.50 on 1 July.

Internal Affairs minister Vainetutai Rose Toki Brown said the decision was approved by Cabinet.

The decision followed an annual review conducted by a minimum wage panel that included feedback from the Chamber of Commerce, Cook Islands Workers Association, and a community representative.

A government spokesperson said the panel considered the ongoing recovery from Covid-19, ongoing labor shortages, and inflation.

(RNZ Pacific)


The European Union has removed Palau from its blacklist of non-co-operative jurisdictions for tax purposes, placing it on the grey list instead.

The Island Times reported Palau appeared on the blacklist in March for lacking tax transparency standards.

The EU blacklist serves as a tool to identify tax havens with systems that enable tax avoidance and distort fair competition.

Six jurisdictions remain on the EU blacklist, including American Samoa and Guam.

(RNZ Pacific)


The US Navy is building six earth-covered, reinforced concrete and steel magazines to store munitions in Guam, ahead of the relocation of thousands of Marines from Okinawa, Japan to Guam.

The base serves as a "strategic hub" in the Indo-Pacific region for the US.

As Pacific Daily News reported, several sites eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places are inside the area expected to be impacted by construction, including "Armco type" magazines that were built shortly after US forces retook Guam in World War II.

(RNZ Pacific)


Papua New Guinea Foreign Affairs Minister Justin Tkatchenko plans to increase PNG's trade and strengthen collaboration with New Zealand over the next few years.

The National newspaper reports Tkatchenko saying his meeting with New Zealand's foreign minister was successful and constructive.

He said they will be reviewing their statement of partnership, and increase and work together on defence cooperation.

Tkatchenko says New Zealand's recognised seasonal employer scheme would be supported to assist Papua New Guineans seeking employment abroad.

(RNZ Pacific)