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Fishing industry and infrastructure are key topics at ASG’s D.C. meetings

Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata, Gov. Lemanu P.S. Mauga, Chief of Staff Loa Tuimavave T. Laupola, and Deputy Chief Legal Counsel Terry VanEaton
Source: Governor’s Office press release

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Governor Lemanu P.S. Mauga this week led a delegation to a series of meetings with federal partners in Washington, D.C. where topics ranged from the importance of the local the fishing industry to infrastructure development and resiliency.


On Tuesday, Feb. 20, the Gov. Lemanu, the ASG delegation and Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata met with representatives from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) where they emphasized the economic significance of the tuna industry and commercial fishing to the territory's sustainability.

The topics under discussion included existing regulations aimed at ensuring sustainable fishing practices in the Pacific Remote Islands Area, emphasizing the need to balance conservation efforts with economic viability. Further collaboration for stakeholders to engage in would seek solutions that promote sustainable development while also safeguarding the territory’s unique marine ecosystem.

Federal participants included Jainey Bavishi, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, Lauren Wenzel, Director at NOAA National Marine Protected Areas Center, and Makeda Okolo, Director of the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs


Discussions with the Department of Interior, Office of Insular Affairs centered on infrastructure projects, cultural preservation, and bolstering capacity and resilience in American Samoa. Governor Lemanu underscored the urgency of receiving necessary guidance to expedite critical projects aimed at mitigating the impacts of climate change, while also seeking support for the territory's infrastructural development and sustainability efforts.

The dialogue explored strategies for navigating intricate regulatory frameworks and identifying avenues to streamline project approvals to facilitate the territory's timely development in the face of climate change.

Gov. Lemanu emphasized that development should extend beyond outsourcing expertise, highlighting the importance of investing in local talent through programs aimed at empowering and upskilling the community. The vision is to nurture local expertise so that American Samoa can cultivate a sustainable pool of talent capable of developing projects and initiatives, which would ensure long-term resilience and self-sufficiency.

Participating with the local delegation were representatives from the Department of Interior (DOI), Office of Insular Affairs, including Mr. Keone Nakoa, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs, Mr. John Brewer, Director of the Office of Insular Affairs & Mrs. Marina Tinitali, Deputy Director of Policy.


The day concluded with Governor Lemanu and his delegation receiving a comprehensive tour of the Pentagon, followed by a briefing on the Office of Civil-Military Programs and Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) Missions for American Samoa.

IRT offers opportunities for active guard, reserve service members, and multinational partners to provide training and support to American communities. The missions created for American Samoa looks at enhancing public health, education, cybersecurity, emergency preparedness, and infrastructure in the territory.

Most projects are expected to expand over the next three years for a consistent supply of assistance and sustainable development of each intended area. Governor Lemanu expressed  gratitude for the collaborative efforts and reaffirmed American Samoa's commitment to partnership moving forward.

In attendance for the briefing were Mr. Grier Martin, Assistant Secretary of Defense manpower and Reserve Affairs, Mr. Mike J. O’Toole, Director, Civil Military Programs, Col Jaclyn A. Chatwick, Director, Innovative Readiness Training, Mr. George E. Koklanaris, Senior Advisor, Civil Military Programs, and Master Sgt. Bradley Wilson, Deputy Program Manager Air National Guard.

The day's meetings underscored the importance of fostering strong federal partnerships to address the unique needs and challenges faced by American Samoa, ensuring sustainable economic growth and prosperity for residents.