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Fautasi Coastal Challenge making a difference

Aua Village was the first to complete the challenge "installation of marine debris encatchment net" on island, which was set up by American Samoa Power Authority and the village council. The net was set up at the stream on the main road of Aua. Aua 1st Ward of LDS faith adopted the stream and was very happy to have the net to help keep their coast clean and healthy. [photo: Ese Malala]

Last Saturday morning, Aua was the first village to complete their second challenge of the Fautasi Coastal Challenge, a set of five challenges that highlight “our rich cultural traditions, coastal resources, and our dependence on people, air, land and sea for economic and cultural security,” according to the Department of Commerce.

Participating fautasi villages are Vatia (Fuao), Aua (Paepaeulupoo), Pago Pago (AETO), Fagasa (Fealofani), Fagaalu (Fetu ole Afiafi), Manu’a (Matasaua), Leone (Taema) and the last two fautasi are the American Samoa Government (using God is Great boat), and the Legislative (Sinapioa).

The Fautasi Coastal Challenge was put out last year in November to the villages with fautasi.

DOC deputy director Sandra Lutu and her team put the program together to capitalize on the unity and pride that exists in a fautasi village and directs that pride towards community based conservation measures.

Lutu told Samoa News, “The reason we have these challenges is to bring villages together to address resource management issues in their villages and provide a healthy coastal platform for both economic development and economic security.”

The second challenge, Aua village completed is putting up an encatchment net in the village, with the help of American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA) and the village council.

In Aua, there are certain streams and beaches that have been adopted by different churches and individuals within the village. One of the streams, was adopted by members of the Latter Day Saints- Aua 1st Ward on the main road, and it’s at this stream the encatchment net is located.

Bishop Levasa told Samoa News, “We adopted the beach and two streams because we want to keep our village clean and beautiful because these spots are useful to us especially our families and kids. The encatchment net has made a big difference in our streams because it has caught all the trash and debris so this helps to prevent diseases and any of us getting sick since we like to host our church activities on our shore. So I'm very happy we have a net.

“The water starts from the mountains, then goes to the stream, then to the beach, and that is the same with trash that people put in our water. With the help of the encatchment net in the stream, we are able to catch the trash and debris and clean it all out before it reaches our shore.”

One of the villager-church members participating in the challenge said,  “So every week we will be coming down to empty out the net so our children can enjoy swimming and playing on the beach.”

The challenge to install an encatchment net ends in March, and with Aua being the first to put up their net after they were able to get funds won from the Fautasi Challenge to help support them in adopting the area.

Utaifeau Leonard Sonoma of ASPA and a member of the Aua Village Council said to Samoa News, “We find this very important, so that is why we help to deliver these materials for each fautasi village that is ready to set up their encatchment net. We continue to stress every week in our village council to maintain our village and use these resources so we can maintain the beauty of our island.”

He added, “There is so much trash and debris, but as we work together, our community, churches, and families, and use these resources we can make a difference especially for tourists and people visiting our island.”

The FCC program expresses thanks to ASPA for making time to install the nets with the village councils together with the support of Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Lt. Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga to make this program possible.

The FCC challenges are:

A. Coastal Watershed

The Crews and faith based groups from their respective villages, will each adopt a coastal/watershed area, participate in the village wide coastal cleanup coordinated by the Fautasi crew.

The goal is to eliminate trash and marine debris from the beaches, streams, wetlands, and other watershed areas. While the requirement to coordinate and conduct a village-wide cleanup is at least once each month, it will be the Crews’ responsibility to ensure that the Faith-based groups’ and the Crew’s adopted area stays clean. Villages who are unable to clean up on 2nd Fridays will be responsible for coordinating collection with ASPA from proper documentation of accumulated weight of debris collected.

B. Installation of Marine Debris Encatchment Nets

Villages struggle with streams that serve as access ways for debris that enters the village coastal marine areas. ASCMP has observed a pilot encatchment net installed in one of the main streams and the potential to control or address this problem.

The Fautasi Coastal Challenge Program includes the requirement for the village to: (1) select at least one stream; (2) install an encatchment net to prevent debris from entering the coastal marine area, and (3) regularly maintain the net and properly dispose of all debris collected on the net especially after heavy rains.

C. Monitoring and Enforcement

Each village will be responsible to conduct village monitoring of all new construction, repairs, excavations, clearings, paving, etc. to ensure that villagers have the appropriate land use and building permits and to report areas where there is accumulation of trash and wetland areas where there may be filling occurring.

Monthly reports of enforcement will be provided to DOC. Monitoring and Enforcement commences upon signing the agreement and ends September 30, 2017.

D. Outreach and Awareness

Each village, with the support of their respective village and faith-based groups, will coordinate and participate in ASCMP outreach and awareness programs to build coastal stewardship. Target date to complete this project is September 30, 2017.

E. Fautasi Ecotourism

As a result of the increased value of our coasts through the Fautasi challenge, each village will work with ASG/DOC to develop the fautasi bay area tours and create ecotourism opportunities within their village.

Fautasi villages will be eligible to utilize ecotourism opportunities developed to support the fautasi activities and the 2017 Fautasi Coastal Challenge.

To find more information on how to support and be part of the Fautasi Coastal Challenge program call Department of Commerce 633-5155.