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Governor signs historic bill designating coral reefs as critical natural infrastructure

Taotasi Archie Soliai
Source: DMWR press release

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Governor Lemanu P.S. Mauga has signed into law a groundbreaking bill that designates coral reefs as critical natural infrastructure for American Samoa. This significant step underscores the government's commitment to safeguarding our marine ecosystems and ensuring the sustainability of our natural resources for generations to come.

In a press release issued by the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR) and praised by the Coral Reef Advisory Group (CRAG), explaining that, “Coral reefs are the lifeblood of our oceans, providing vital habitat for marine species, protecting coastlines from erosion, and supporting the livelihoods of our local communities. Recognizing the immense ecological, economic, and cultural value of these fragile ecosystems, Governor Lemanu's decisive action solidifies American Samoa's dedication to their protection and preservation.”

DMWR Director Taotasi Archie Soliai expressed profound gratitude to the Governor and the Fono for their wisdom, leadership and vision in prioritizing the conservation of coral reefs. "This historic legislation marks a pivotal moment in our ongoing efforts to safeguard the biodiversity and resilience of our marine environment. By designating coral reefs as critical infrastructure, we are affirming their essential role in sustaining our island's ecosystem and ensuring the well-being of our communities.”

The designation of coral reefs as critical natural infrastructure empowers the government to allocate resources, implement protective measures, and collaborate with stakeholders to mitigate threats such as climate change, pollution, and overfishing. Through proactive conservation strategies, American Samoa aims to enhance the resilience of coral reefs in the face of mounting environmental challenges and promote sustainable ocean management practices.

Taotasi further reminded the community about the impacts of climate on coral reefs. “The village community plays a key role in managing and protecting our coral reefs. By taking concerted action and fostering collaboration between communities, government, and conservation organizations, we can mitigate the impacts on coral reefs and ensure their survival for future generations.

As guardians of American Samoa's marine and wildlife resources, DMWR / CRAG remains steadfast in its commitment to advancing conservation initiatives, fostering scientific research, and engaging local communities in the stewardship of our precious natural heritage. Together, we can forge a path towards a more resilient, vibrant, and sustainable future for American Samoa and our planet.