The remote American territory of American Samoa holds some of the Pacific’s most ecologically diverse and pristine coral reef ecosystems. None of these is more biologically productive than Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Fagatele Bay – the Samoan word is pronounced “Fun-gha-telly” – is nestled within an eroded volcanic crater on the island of Tutuila, American Samoa. This is the nation’s smallest and most remote National Marine Sanctuary, and the only true tropical reef of the 13 national marine sanctuaries in US waters.

While Fagatele Bay is regarded in most respects as a well-managed sanctuary, over the past 25 years, the health and resilience of American Samoa’s marine ecosystems has been degraded by commercial longline fisheries, coral bleaching events, pollution from nearby lands, and other stresses. The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, which manages the Sanctuary, has published a Draft Management Plan and published a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for public comment.

Because of our great concern for the health of the National Marine Sanctuaries, Marine Conservation Institute has reviewed the draft management plans, and offered public comments in support of expanding the sanctuary and establishing strong, consistent regulations for the new units. We submitted public comment to the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries in support of our preferred proposal (Option 3B). Option 3B would add five additional discrete geographical areas to the sanctuary, change the sanctuary’s name to “American Samoa National Marine Sanctuary,” revise sanctuary-wide regulations, and establish regulations for each new unit. Marine Conservation considers this proposal and an expansion of the existing Fagatele Bay Sanctuary to be beneficial to the long-term protection of the region’s resources, in concurrence with needs of the local community and the American Samoan Government.

Please read Marine Conservation Institute’s comments

here.

Photo: Todd Raden

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