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
“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
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
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.