|September 20, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|WASHINGTON, D.C.—FALEOMAVAEGA ESTABLISHES SEA GRANT PRESENCE IN AMERICAN SAMOA TO PROMOTE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT|
| Congressman Faleomavaega
announced today that for the first time in the history of American Samoa
a Sea Grant specialist from the University of Hawaii will be assigned to
live and work in the Territory for purposes of promoting aquaculture development.
“Last year, I asked Dr. Gordon Grau, Director of the Sea Grant College Program at the University of Hawaii, to base a full-time extension agent in American Samoa,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “For the past year, we have worked to finalize the details and I want to thank Dr. Adele Satele Galeai for her participation in this historic effort.”
“Dr. Darren Okimoto will be arriving on island tonight and will teach one course per semester at the American Samoa Community College. As the Territory’s Sea Grant specialist, Dr. Okimoto will also work with any of our villages that may be interested in establishing aquaculture farms,” Faleomavaega said.
“As I have said before, American Samoa is rich in marine resources and I have always believed that we should capitalize on our marine resources to promote economic development. The ornamental fish business is a $6 billion industry and Palau has done a great job of growing live coral and ornamental clams to sell to this worldwide industry. There is no reason that American Samoa cannot do the same,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“We must diversify our economy and, like you, I believe aquaculture is one way to do this. If you will recall, in 1999 Congress established an Economic Development Commission to produce a body of work that would serve as a catalyst for real and sustainable economic development in American Samoa. Pursuant to a partnership agreement with the Commission, ASCC conducted an unprecedented survey to identify the attitudes, aspirations and long-range goals of the local community. Survey results were compiled and published in November of 2000. The results of this survey showed what the people of this Territory want.”
“When asked what industries should be encouraged in the U.S. Territory of American Samoa, 63.3% of survey respondents indicated that agriculture and fishery related industries should be encouraged for purposes of economic development. There was also strong agreement (83.1%) that economic information should be disseminated to educate and inform the public. More than 67.5% of respondents felt that the local government does not provide the public with enough information on economic development. More than 56.3% of the community felt that development information was privileged and inadequate,” Faleomavaega said.
“In round-table discussions, many participants noted that there was also a deficiency in education programs and made reference to Western Samoa’s weekly agricultural programs where farmers are encouraged to set up and maintain their own farms, crops, etc. There was also notable concern that school curriculum was limited to general education. The majority of respondents felt that increased emphasis should be placed on vocational education and extension-related activities that promote economic growth and development.”
“There was also a general sense of concern (76.3%) that the community is shifting away from the extended family system and as such there was overwhelming support (78.5%) for the idea that Samoan culture should be considered in context of economic development. It was also noted by 62.8% of respondents that rural areas and outer islands were not receiving fair and equitable access to resources and services,” the Congressman said.
“Given these concerns, I am pleased that the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program has agreed to send one of their top scientists to help us develop aquaculture farms where we can grow ornamental clams, live coral, talapia and even shrimp. I am pleased that everyone in American Samoa will have access to Dr. Okimoto’s expertise. I am also pleased that our ASCC students will be able to take courses from Dr. Okimoto and I am hopeful that some will gain an interest in the marine sciences and continue their studies at the University of Hawaii and one day return home to teach and practice.”
“I welcome Dr. Darren Okimoto to our islands. I look forward to working with him to develop community initiatives that will especially help our people in Manu’a and other rural and outlying villages,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “I also thank Dr. Gordon Grau for funding this request and I thank Dr. Adele Satele Galeai for housing Dr. Okimoto at ASCC.”
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