Wansolwara News

Vol. 5 No. 2
June 2000

Page 8

 

INSIGHT REPORT
on the Pacific Environment
DYNAMITE AND CHLOROX HIT SAMOAN ECONOMY MARINE RESOURCES
By KRISTY TYRELL

DYNAMITE, chlorox and fish poisoning plant are the major threats to the marine resources and the economy of Samoa. Now the Fisheries Extension Programme is planning a scheme to reverse the progressive decline in the quality and productivity faced by Samoa’s marine environment.

“Fishing has always made a significant contribution to the subsistence economy of Samoa and the programme will assist people to do things for themselves,” says Autalavou Taua, a senior fisheries officer of the FEP.

The Government has undertaken the project because of the serious damage that has been inflicted on the coral reefs in recent years and a decline in fish catches. The idea to develop a plan of action came from the village council of chiefs who worked directly with Fisheries Management Committee (FMC).

“Once Fisheries Management Plans are developed by villages, the Fisheries Division perform a more traditional role of providing technical support to the villages, usually through our FMC,” says Mr Taua.

A new fisheries legislation under Fisheries Act in 1998 was enacted to conserve and protect marine breeding and feeding areas, and to protect marine resources from pollution and destruction. Violation of these laws by any person was dealt with by the village council of chiefs or through legal proceedings. Taua said the maximum penalty for people who do not follow the legislation is five years imprisonment or a fine up to $15000 WST.

A survey carried out by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 1998 indicated inshore fish stocks were overfished and about 80 per cent of all fishermen interviewed on the Island of Upolu said “catches have declined over the past ten years”.

Meanwhile, the Fisheries Division has investigated a large marine environment area damaged by village people through the use of dynamite fishing and the use of poisoning fish plant.

Small fish: Small fish were killed and in addition, there was a depletion of coral reefs for marine breeding and feeding areas.

According to the Fisheries Division, the reef is a living community and people must learn to respect its limits. People should catch just what they need, making sure to leave some fish behind to replace what they had taken.

The creation of coral reefs reserves or other protected areas can provide reservoirs where a healthy population can multiply and spread. Mr Taua of the Fisheries Division said the Ministry was still working to overcome the problems of coral bleaching, and human activities that put pressure on fish resources.

The Fisheries Division make up more than 35per cent of total export earnings for Samoa. It is the country’s leading industry.


File created: 3 June 2000
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