Lt. Governor wraps up the two-day NOAA PRIA Workshop
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The NOAA Workshop on the Pacific Remote Islands Area (PRIA) National Marine Sanctuary designation concluded on September 13, 2023, after two days of discussions and community engagement at the Rex H. Lee Auditorium in Utulei.
At the close of the event Lt Governor Talauega E. V. Ale emphasized the importance of the potential effects of the sanctuary designation for American Samoa, noting that it goes beyond economics and extends to the preservation of the Samoan people as a fishing community.
"The importance of the tuna industry in American Samoa and our local cannery cannot be overstated," Lt. Gov Talauega said. "It is the pillar of our economy, it is the employer of thousands, and it is what feeds our families. Any action that threatens the survival of the fishing industry threatens the survival of our fragile economy," he is quoted saying in a press release issued by the Governor’s Office.
He also expressed appreciation for the conservation efforts being made in the Pacific and highlighted the value of the natural marine resources of the territory. “I have confidence in finding a solution that would ensure the preservation of oceans without crippling the fishing industry, the economy, and the unique culture of American Samoa.”
Demonstrating ASG’s commitment, Talauega announced that the government would be submitting a letter summarizing the workshop's discussions and reiterating ASG’s opposition to further restrictions on commercial fishing in the PRIA region.
Optimistically he expressed his belief that a "happy medium" could be found, where both conservation and utilization coexist harmoniously. "We hope that when you go back to Washington D.C., and explain to them that they can find a way where environmentalists and us [sic] here in American Samoa can both get what we want," the Lt. Governor concluded.
He extended appreciation to the federal partners involved, notably acknowledging NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (NMS) Director John Armor, Acting Director Sarah Malloy of the NOAA Pacific Islands Regional Office, and the entire NOAA staff who traveled to American Samoa.
He also recognized the efforts of NOAA Superintendent for National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa Atuatasi Lelei Peau, Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources Director Taotasi Archie Soliai, and the team at ASG for their coordination of the event, ensuring that this conversation could take place.
Later in the evening, Governor Lemanu P. S. Mauga and First Lady Ella hosted an appreciation dinner for the NOAA Officials at the Mauga o Alii Governor's Mansion. Along with parting gifts presented by the First Lady, Governor Lemanu conveyed his appreciation to the NOAA team.