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Pacific News Briefs

Staghorn corals killed by coral bleaching on Bourke Reef, on the Northern Great Barrier Reef, November 2016. [Photo: Greg Torda / ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies]
compiled by Samoa News staff


Police in Samoa are investigating the circumstances surrounding a report of a 13-year-old girl who is married to an older man.

The matter came to light when the girl sought police assistance after she claimed that she was assaulted by her husband.

The alleged assault took place in a village on Savaii last week and police upon investigation discovered the victim is underage.

Police spokesperson Superintendent Sala’a Moananu Sale told local media the investigation would cover the girl’s parents as well as the accused who is between the ages of 40 and 45.

Marriage to 13-year-old girls is legally prohibited in Samoa.

[Source:  LoopSamoa]


Scientists say most of the world's coral reefs could die if countries do not honor their commitments to the Paris climate agreement.

The most significant global coral bleaching event on record has just ended leaving a trail of dead coral in its wake with some reefs in the Pacific losing more than 90 percent of their living coral.

A US coral reef expert Mark Eakin said if countries fail to reduce global warming such rare events would become the norm which would be disastrous for coral reefs and the billions of people whose livelihoods depend on the marine ecosystems that corals support.

"The first is for countries to be doing everything they can to live up to the Paris Agreement keeping climate change well under two degrees of warming and in the long term try to keep within 1.5 degrees but at the same time because that is going to take a while we need to be doing everything we can to reduce local stresses," Mr. Eakin said.

He said local stresses include the over-harvesting of marine resources, pollution and the destruction of marine habitats.

[Source: RNZI]


Samoa Observer reports Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, has claimed that the government is “financially desperate” with their decision to tax the Head of State and Church Ministers.

He has also questioned the factuality of figures provided by the Ministry of Finance on the budget for 2017/ 2018 where the surplus is in millions and yet the government intends to tax church Ministers.

His concerns were raised when Parliament convened this week to debate the budget tabled by the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, last month.

 “If the figures are accurate in terms of surplus, it increases year after year,” Olo said. 

 “Mr. Speaker, I believe the V.A.G.S.T [Value Added Goods and Services Tax] should not be increased until the end of time. 

“Secondly why are we levying taxes against the church ministers, if the figures are accurate that the surplus is in millions? Then why do we need to add anymore burden onto the public?”

Olo pointed out that it’s members of the public who end up suffering.

 “This word faifeau is just a cover when the reality is that it’s the public that is paying for the taxes. It’s not their money, so they don’t care about their salary being taxed because it’s the public that is being taxed again.”

Outside Parliament, Olo told the Samoa Observer the government is desperate for money.

[Source: Samoa Observer]


At least 17 people including 13 children from a village church group in the Solomon Islands have drowned after a rescue mission was reportedly delayed for lack of funds when their boat sank between islands, Stuff New Zealand reported this week.

The group, which was traveling from the island of Malaita to the nation's main island, Guadalcanal, set off in an open "banana" boat powered by outboard engines when it was swamped while changing petrol tanks and sank shortly before midday last Wednesday.

The victims’ ages are unknown, though the children were all between 11 and 16.

The premier of Malaita, Peter Ramohia, said that after he first heard reports of the tragedy on Wednesday afternoon he immediately contacted the national rescue center to check on their progress, only to be told that the authority had no money to mount a rescue operation.

"I started calling the rescue center to arrange for a rescue, what they told me was that they had no funds to support a rescue. [They said] they actually had bills with the helicopter company," he said.

The first rescues were not made until late the following morning by private vessels that had set off from Malaita and Guadalcanal. Of the 24 people who set off to raise funds for their church 17 are thought to be dead, though so far only five bodies have been recovered.

[Source: Stuff New Zealand]


A mass bleaching of coral reefs worldwide is finally easing after three years, U.S. scientists announced Monday.

About three-quarters of the world's delicate coral reefs were damaged or killed by hot water in what scientists say was the largest coral catastrophe.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced a global bleaching event in May 2014. It was worse than previous global bleaching events in 1998 and 2010.

The forecast damage doesn't look widespread in the Indian Ocean, so the event loses its global scope. Bleaching will still be bad in the Caribbean and Pacific, but it'll be less severe than recent years, said NOAA coral reef watch coordinator C. Mark Eakin.

Places like Australia's Great Barrier Reef, northwest Hawaii, Guam and parts of the Caribbean have been hit with back-to-back-to-back destruction, Eakin said.

He added that coral have difficulty surviving water already getting warmer by man-made climate change. Extra heating of the water from a natural El Nino nudges coral conditions over the edge.

About one billion people use coral reefs for fisheries or tourism. Scientists have said that coral reefs are one of the first and most prominent indicators of global warming.

"I don't see how they can take one more hit at this point," Baum said. "They need a reprieve."

[Source: Associated Press]