[Coral-List] American Samoa moving towards complete protection of big fishes

Benjamin Carroll benjaminapolis at hotmail.com
Wed Aug 29 23:56:54 EDT 2007

Chuck, just a couple of corrections. 
(1) The Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources in American Samoa and the Government of American Samoa is beginning the process of managing all fish not just ‘big’ fish. Maori wrasse, bumphead parrotfish, giant grouper, giant trevally, and ALL species of shark (not just six species) are indeed the first that will hopefully be fully protected – based on their rarity, not their size. We also now hope to work towards the possibility of getting further fisheries regulations implemented such as bag limits and size restrictions for certain other species, as well as possibly adding other ‘smaller’, not as noticeably rare but still rare species to the protected list.
(2) The protection of these species was based solely on the fact that they are currently considered rare, or at the very least uncommon, in the waters of American Samoa. The decision had nothing to do with whether or not these species have been depleted – as even though this may be the case, no scientific information actually shows this and we simply don’t have this type of information. Also, not to discredit Rusty and the CRED crew – their large-scale, regional monitoring throughout the Pacific is indeed an exceptional effort in many different areas – but the decision to protect these species based on their rarity came more so from studies of a higher resolution that have been conducted by people such as Dick Wass, Marlowe Sabater, Ali Green, Leslie Whaylen, and others. As such the people who have worked directly on these issues in American Samoa should be thoroughly congratulated.
Marlowe Sabater, myself, as well as Doug and many others have been working hard to ensure that the marine resources of American Samoa are well managed and that the right management decisions are based on the right science for the right reasons. And also that the right message gets out!!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ben Carroll Coral Reef Fish Ecologist Dept Marine & Wildlife Resources PO Box 3730, Pago Pago, American Samoa, 96799. 
“Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” - Publilius Syrus
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------> Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2007 14:13:33 -1000> From: charlesb at hawaii.edu> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> Subject: [Coral-List] American Samoa moving towards complete protection of big fishes> > American Samoa moving towards complete protection of big fishes> > American Samoa might become the first territory to give complete protection to all large species of reef fishes in all seasons throughout the territory. At the recent US Coral Reef Task Force meeting in American Samoa (20-23 August), Governor Togiola Tulafono announced that the Government of American Samoa is beginning the process of protecting the big fishes (humphead wrasses, bumphead parrotfishes, giant grouper, giant trevallies, and six species of sharks). The local Samoan population expressed themselves with splendid eloquence at two public hearings in April 2001 in protest of the depletion of big fishes by a small group of commercial fishermen using high tech nightlights and scuba. These big fishes are now rare and therefore they are especially vulnerable to additional harvest. Because of this, Ray Tulafono, Director of the Division of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR), will begin a process of hearings and consultations, working towards placing complete protection f> or the big fishes listed above.> > Consideration of protection of big fishes is based on strong scientific evidence. Doug Fenner, Acting Chief Biologist at DMWR, working on a NOAA Coral Reef Monitoring Grant, had been diligently compiling information on the depletion of big reef fishes around American Samoa, reviewing all the available scientific information from research at DMWR, from other scientists in the territory, and from the research of visiting scientists over the years. The most compelling scientific support for this decision came from a massive report under review at this time (R. Brainard et al. 2007 Coral Reef Ecosystem Monitoring Report for American Samoa: 2002-2006. NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center Special Report NMFS PIFSC. 504 pp). Replicate surveys (2002, 2004, 2006) around the American Samoan, Hawaiian, and Marianas Archipelagoes, as well as isolated islands such as Wake, Palmyra, Kingman Reef, Jarvis, Baker, Howland, consisted of tow-board transects and visual benthic transec> ts. The independent survey methods both clearly demonstrated an inverse correlation between human population sizes and the presence of big fishes of all species. Ray Tulafono reviewed the evidence with the DMWR biologists and all agreed these species need to be protected because they are rare.> > This latest action is consistent with other responsible measures by the Government of American Samoa. In 2000 and Executive Order (EO) by the Governor banned collection of "live rock" for export to the aquarium market. In 2001, an EO banned scuba-assisted fishing. In 2003, an EO was given to protect sea turtles and marine mammals in territorial waters. This EO reiterated the need for protection and public education regarding these federally protected endangered species. In 2003, another EO was given to ban shark finning in territorial waters.> > Pacific islanders live close to their resources and therefore have a relatively clear perception of the status of the surrounding marine life. A number of island cultures around the tropical Pacific have traditions of responsible resource management. I have heard that Palau now protects all of its reef sharks because tourism is an important part of its economy. Niue protects humphead wrasses. Queensland, Australia (the largest Pacific island), fully protects humphead wrasses and also groupers greater than 100 cm because of their low natural abundances and potential threat from overexploitation. Queensland is also considering additional protection of nearshore sharks. But as far as I know, American Samoa is the first to work towards complete protection of all their ten largest species of reef fishes.> > Chuck Birkeland> > _______________________________________________> Coral-List mailing list> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
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