Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he is opposed to NOAA’s proposed rule that would expand the current Fagatele Marine Sanctuary to include five additional sites. In a letter to Undersecretary Dr. Jane Lubchenco, with copies to the American Samoa Governor and Lt. Governor, the President and Senators, the Speaker and Representatives of the Fono, NOAA’s Regional Administrator Michael Tosatto, and Superintendent Gene Brighouse, Faleomavaega emphasized the need to first thoroughly review a sustainable Management Plan for the current protected sites, before considering any plans for expansion.
Excerpts from Faleomavaega’s letter are inserted below:
“Notwithstanding the ongoing proceedings and the amount of data and scientific findings collected so far… this is a very sensitive issue to the people of American Samoa and it is very important for NOAA to get it right.”
“Extending federal protection over communal property may be seen by some as federal imposition on the rights of the local communities and villages to manage and administer the said property...”
“Similar concerns were brought to my attention after the Rose Atoll was designated as a national monument… Evidently, there are strong cultural, economic and legal issues that just cannot simply be ignored.”
“Forging a symbiotic relationship with the affected communities, especially the village council and its subsidiary bodies is important. Strategically utilizing traditional entities in various aspects of the Management Plan reinforces the sense of ownership among the local communities.”
The Congressman concluded his letter by stating, “I thank you for your consideration and again I want to state my strong opposition to the proposed rule to add five more sites to the already existing areas under the Fagatele Sanctuary.”