AMERICAN SAMOA GOVERNMENT
National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Meets with Governor Lolo
January 26, 2017
Members of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation paid a courtesy visit with Governor Lolo Moliga today at the Governor’s Office. The delegation included Kristen Sarri, Foundation President; Jim Crowley, Vice Chair, and Holt Thrasher, Treasurer.
This was the first time that the foundation has met with the Governor since the National Marine Sanctuary was established in American Samoa. Each of the foundation officers stressed to the Governor their purpose, which is to engage communities in awareness of and support for the National Marine Sanctuaries, and to promote the conservation and preservation of these ocean treasures.
Governor Lolo thanked the members of the foundation for their visit. He expressed his strong support for conservation and preservation so future generations experience the same enjoyment and wonderment of God’s creations.
Notwithstanding, he stated that there has been an apparent disconnect between the local sanctuary office, which is under NOAA, and the American Samoa Government. The Governor seized the opportunity to disclose relative to the people’s primary mandate to ensure that local laws are followed to protect our valuable resources and our physical assets. Regrettably, some recent federal regulations creating marine monuments and sanctuaries which have been implemented without any local input whatsoever, is contradictory to the people’s directive. Moreover, these regulations have resulted in major negative social and economic impact on our local economy through the tuna canneries being deprived of a
major part of their usual fishing grounds, and our people are being prevented from fishing in local waters which the federal government has declared protected. “To be clear, these waters are our people’s greatest resource, both culturally and economically, and we cannot sit by while the federal government makes decisions that impact our daily lives,” said Governor Lolo. Governor Lolo told the foundation members that there needs to be better communication between NOAA and his office, because while he supports preservation and conservation of our ocean resources, input from our local canneries and our people need to be sought before any federal regulations are put in place.
The Governor also informed the foundation members and local NOAA officials Atuatasi Lelei Peau and Gene Brighouse, of the need to relocate the Tauese P. Sunia Ocean Center toward the Fagatogo marketplace in order to allow hotel developers to utilize the current location.
The meeting ended cordially with the foundation members agreeing to improve communications channels with the Governor’s office.