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Gift of giant clams: Fulfillment of one outcome of Atoa-o-Samoa Talks

500 giant baby clams

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Atoa o Samoa Talks has materialized one of its agreements on November 27, 2023 in American Samoa — the exchange of food security methods and expertise between the Fishery Divisions of the two Samoas.

The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries in Samoa, Laaulialemalietoa Polataivao Leuatea Fossie Schmidt led a delegation of 11 fishery officials including, Marine Biologists, Marine Technicians and Associate Minister, Maiava Fuimaono Tito, the Chief Executive Officer and Assistant to present the gift to an American Samoa government group, led by Gov. Lemanu P.S. Mauga, which included the Aquatic Educational Division of Fishery in American Samoa.

The event was held at Fagaalu Park, yesterday — the site of one of the areas that will receive some of the giant baby clams to grow.

Gov. Lemanu P.S. Mauga and the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries in Samoa, Laaulialemalietoa Polataivao Leuatea Fossie Schmidt, who led a delegation of 11 fishery officials from Samoa to present a gift of 500+ giant baby clams to American Samoa Fisheries as part of the objective of the Atoa-o-Samoa Talks to share knowledge and build capacity to support community livelihood diversification vital for food security and fisheries management in the Samoan Archipelago. [photo: AT]

Samoa's Consular in American Samoa, Fata Brian Kaio was also present in support of the presentation.

The group brought with them, 500 one-year-old baby giant clams, as a gift that starts the two-week initial exchange program between the two Samoas fisheries.

Ms. Maria Mauga Vaofanua from the Aquatic Educational Division of Fishery in American Samoa, said, “This is the initial exchange, where we see what they have to offer and what we have, so we can work together.”

Asked what American Samoa has to offer, Ms Vaofanua said, they have expertise and they have a Marine protected area at Fagaalu, as one of their community based fisheries management programs.

“Which is why we are holding it here (as the clams) will be placed in one of our Marine protected areas.

“We will be exchanging monitoring survey ideas techniques, and sharing with each other — whether on data or how they’ll do different projects with the community.”

Starting today, they will be spending a lot of time in the water.

“They will be going out to different villages, to do the initial assessment to see whether other areas are viable for us to spread all the sea clams, and we are hoping that they’ll be training some of our staff.”

American Samoa’s Fishery division, according to Ms Vaofanua tries to incorporate all of the traditional standings, into securing the marine protected areas, such as the village council, chiefs, untitled men, women and leaders at the same time getting support from the government.

 The village mayor of Fagaalu, who was also present during the event, Tuailevaoola Simā Lago’o Vaitautolu, 63, said she is “grateful for the opportunity given to her village  to protect the marine life, something she didn’t expect to happen during her turn as the Village Mayor.

 Fagaalu is like all other villages, it has a village council, which runs under the guidance of chiefs.

Her role includes promoting a healthy environment for the village, checking on the security of the village and protecting the village from drugs.

Governor Lemanu during his welcoming remarks said,” This event isn’t the first of its kind in American Samoa,” and thanked all those involved in putting words into actions, and that it all happened for a good cause, acknowledging the efforts between the two Samoas.

Samoa’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Laaulialemalietoa said, “there’s 650 clams for American Samoa.

“As the Prime Minister and the government of Samoa would like to share whatever we have.

“It’s our aim to help each other, especially in securing food supplies, and sustaining them.

 “We start with seafood.

“There’s already a supply of Tilapia fish and shellfish, ali’ao, and grape seaweeds, limu, all ready for delivery whenever American Samoa is ready to receive.

“There’s also an agreement on cattle and sheep to be shared —  thank you for your support and patience, Tutuila and Manu’a,” Laauli stated.

Samoan Affairs held the welcoming ava ceremony for the delegates from Samoa, at the Fagaalu Park, yesterday morning.

The team will be here for two weeks sharing knowledge.