Samoa launches Ocean Strategy

Apia: The Honourable Prime Minister and partners launched the Samoa Ocean Strategy to effectively conserve long-standing economic, subsistence, and cultural benefits from our ocean into the future.

Photo by Fabian Wiktor on Pexels.com

Apia, Samoa (October 16, 2020) – The Samoa Government, led by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), have launched the Samoa Ocean Strategy (SOS) a plan that will manage Samoa’s entire ocean, and protect important ecological habitats, marine wildlife, and cultural heritage, enhance safety and security at sea while safeguarding important sources of food, income and economic growth derived from the ocean.

“Samoa is a large ocean state. Ninety-eight percent of our domain is ocean. Our waters hold exceptional marine habitats, from seamounts to biodiverse coral reefs, mangroves, and oceanic basins. These all contribute significantly to both the economy and the identity of the Samoan people. The Samoa Ocean Strategy will ensure the sustainable, effective and integrated management and conservation of these rich waters, not only for a resilient and prosperous Samoa now, but for generations to come.” said Hon. Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa and Acting Minister for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE).

The Strategy includes a commitment to protect 30 percent of Samoa’s ocean by 2025, which will result in 36,000 km2 of fully protected ocean, a significant increase from the 1 percent currently under protection under existing legislation. To support the implementation of the Samoa Ocean Strategy, the Government of Samoa, Conservation International, and the Blue Prosperity Coalition signed a five-year Official Government Announcement for Launch of the Samoa Ocean Strategy Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen Samoa’s sustainable ocean future. Specifically, the partners will collaborate to support marine spatial planning, sustainable fisheries and blue economy. This process will be science-based and community-driven. New inshore and offshore marine protected areas will preserve commercially important coastal habitats, fish stocks, migratory routes for marine mammals, and deepsea ecosystems while allowing for responsible use of the marine environment.

Globally, the ocean is facing many challenges such as habitat destruction, overfishing and pollution which are reducing vital oceanic ecosystem services and benefits to people such as food security, livelihood opportunities, and climate regulation. This is especially important as climate change is leading to increases in ocean temperatures, sea levels, and frequency and intensity of natural disasters causing coastal inundation. Samoa, and other low-lying island nations, are on the front lines of these challenges. “How we manage our ocean domain now will define the welfare of the next generation, and generations to come. The choice is clear – the unsustainable management and use of marine resources needs to be replaced with integrated sustainable-use and management of Samoa’s ocean. The Samoa Ocean Strategy will answer this call,” said Ulu Bismarck Crawley, CEO of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. MNRE received technical assistance from Conservation International on the facilitation and design of the SOS. CEO of Conservation International, Dr. M. Sanjayan applauded the news, who was last in Samoa for the Pacific Islands Leaders Forum in 2017. “Samoa has made a bold move to secure the natural bounty of their waters and to value the role of nature in the future of Samoa. Oceans are fundamental to the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, and Samoan culture. They also underpin the Official signing of the Memorandum of Understanding by the Hon. Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi The Hon. Prime Minister and CEO for MNRE with Official Representatives from Diplomatic Corps, Cabinet, Regional and International Partners national economy, wealth, trade and stabilizes the Earth’s climate. Samoa’s commitment to sustainably manage and protect their marine space benefits not only Samoa, but humanity.” “At this critical moment, Samoa has taken the initiative to protect its ocean resources to secure a vibrant future for all Samoans. We are honored to work with the government and the people of Samoa to provide the funding and technical assistance to make their long-term vision for healthy oceans a reality,” said Ted Waitt, Chairman and Founder of the Waitt Institute, the Waitt Foundation and the Blue Prosperity Coalition. The SOS is dedicated to the memory of Ms. Sue Miller-Taei, former Executive Director of Conservation International’s Pacific Islands program. Sue championed large-scale marine conservation throughout the Pacific and was a driving force behind the Pacific Oceanscape – a framework for ocean management endorsed by the leaders of the Pacific Island Leaders Forum.

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