Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that his amendment to H.R. 5622, the Coral Reef Conservation Legacy Act of 2006, passed by unanimous consent in the House Resources Committee Markup session held on Wednesday, June 21, 2006. The Faleomavaega amendment authorizes $1,000,000 to be appropriated to the University of Hawaii Sea Grant Program to administer a Marine Science Laboratory for coral reef research and protection, coastal ecology and development, at the American Samoa Community College.
“Our number one priority since establishing a Sea Grant presence in American Samoa in 2001 has been to set up a Marine Science Laboratory to focus on marine resource management, conservation and education,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “This has been a work in progress for the over five years now, and I am hopeful that with the recent passage of this amendment by the Resources Committee we are one step closer to making this a reality.”
“The House still has to pass the Coral Reef bill and the House and Senate must conference. After this, the appropriators will also have to decide whether or not they will fund the Coral Reef bill. But even so, we are making headway and are optimistic about the possibility of establishing a Marine Science Laboratory in American Samoa.”
“I am especially pleased that the University of Hawaii Sea Grant has agreed to administer our lab in cooperation with ASCC if this legislation becomes law. For more than 30 years, Sea Grant has focused its efforts on developing a body of knowledge that to date is esteemed as the most comprehensive body of research in the world. Sea Grant Hawaii has also expended considerable time in developing extension-related activities that promote economic growth and development, particularly in the area of aquaculture development.”
“Given the remote geographic distance of American Samoa and its limited economic and academic base, Sea Grant Hawaii’s participation in establishing our Marine Science Lab and developing aquaculture as a viable industry in the Territory is critical for ensuring sustainable economic growth and opportunity. As I have said before, I believe our marine resources are key to economic development in American Samoa.”
“For example, the US imports over $11 billion worth of fish per year. The ornamental fish industry, which includes fish for aquariums, is a multi-billion dollar industry and some of the most beautiful fish for this industry are found off the coast of Manu’a. Sea Grant has the expertise to help us harvest ornamental fish and grow other fish like tilapia for resale. This is evident in the new fish farms and ornamental clam projects that Sea Grant has helped establish in the Territory since we established a full-time extension agent in the Territory and teamed up with ASCC in 2001.”
“In 2001, Dr. Gordon Grau, Director of the UH Hawaii Sea Grant College Program and Dr. Adele Satele-Galeai, President of ASCC, worked closely with my office to establish a Sea Grant presence at ASCC. This was the first time in the history of American Samoa that a Sea Grant specialist was assigned to live and work in the Territory for purposes of promoting aquaculture development.”
“I am pleased that Dr. Gordon Grau and his associates have also agreed to support our efforts to establish a Marine Science Lab at ASCC and, at this time, I thank him for his commitment. I also thank Dr. Satele-Galeai and the Chairman and Members of the Board of Higher Education, all of whom have worked diligently to provide these and other important educational opportunities for our students. In addition to helping diversify our economy, this lab will also provide the necessary training and expertise for our next generation of marine biologists.”
“For these reasons, I commend the leadership of the House Resources Committee, Chairman Richard Pombo and Ranking Member Nick Rahall, for their support of this important measure. Although we have a ways to go, I remain hopeful that we will be successful in our efforts to pass this into law,” Faleomavaega concluded.