Ocean Planning Meetings at Village Level Urged

There should be opportunity for traditional leaders and fisher men and women in the villages to provide their comments on how coastal and ocean resources of American Samoa should be managed.

That’s one of the recommendations made by participants at a meeting convened by the Pacific Regional Planning Group, a federal group appointed under presidential executive order, to gather input form local communities to develop a plan for the balances and sustainable management of American Samoa’s seas and coasts.

There was resistance from some in the audience in having federal officials convene a meeting in the territory, with no visible involvement and presence of local government and traditional leaders at the gathering last night.

The two ASG representatives on the American Samoa Ocean Planning team, a local group  that is working with federal counterparts in the gathering of opinion and recommendations from the community, for the plan, are Director of Marine and Wildlife Resources Dr. Ruth Matagi Faatili and Director of Port, Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Poumele.

Both were not present at last night’s meeting but had participated in meetings held earlier this week with the federal group.

During two group sessions participants gave their opinions on why the ocean  was important to them and the territory, their concerns with the current state of the oceans and  how they feel ocean and coastal resources should be managed.

Some members of the public who attended didn’t hold back their feelings about this being another attempt by the feds to make regulations that would hurt residents just like Obama’s Pacific Remote Island Area sanctuary, and the amendment to the Large vessel prohibited Area.

The facilitators, private consultants from Hawaii, with experience in marine resource management, assured that everyone ;s concerns will be taken into consideration.

One of the recommendations was for the consultation to take place at the village level to involve traditional leaders and subsistence fishermen.

Facilitator Merinda Foley gave this reaction.
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