THE HONORABLE ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA
COMMERCE, JUSTICE STATE APPROPRIATIONS
NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARIES
MARCH 12, 1998
Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of FY99 funding at the full level of authorization for the National Marine Sanctuary program. Mr. Chairman, I come from a district which is completely surrounded by water and from a culture which has more than 75 different words for "wave", a culture which has used its marine resources in a sustainable manner for thousands of years. I am fully committed to the protection of our nation's marine environment -- protection which is embodied in the National Marine Sanctuary program.
Because of its remoteness, one might think that American Samoa's marine environment would be relatively secure from the environmental degradation caused by human activities. In fact, because of the small land mass in American Samoa, America's most remote territory is feeling the same pressures as other more developed areas. We have:
The National Marine Sanctuary in American Samoa is a small bay called Fagatele Bay. The designation of this bay, along with the National Park of American Samoa, is helping to preserve the only southern hemisphere, paleo-tropical rainforest in the United States and a tropical South Pacific marine ecosystem.
The Fagatele Bay Marine Sanctuary serves as a living source of educational activities which foster understanding of and respect for our marine environment. Students and visitors from American Samoa and around the world are provided with information about the marine environment through interpretive lectures, reef walks, summer camps, brochures and a variety of educational materials. The sanctuary itself is a key resource in these activities, and its beauty speaks for itself.
Southern humpback whales mate nearby, and young calves use the bay's calm waters in their early days of life. Several varieties of porpoise are frequent visitors to the Sanctuary, and several varieties of threatened and endangered marine turtles also visit and rest in these waters. Giant clams live permanently in the Sanctuary along with a large variety of tropical fish. The Fagatele Bay Marine Sanctuary and its surrounding waters support the marine ecosystem by providing a refuge for all this life.
Mr. Chairman, as you and the Members of the Subcommittee balance the many, diverse and important requests you will receive, I ask that you support this vital program and that you fund an increase of $4 million over the FY98 amount to the authorized level of $18 million.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to testify.