Congressman Faleomavaega today announced that at his request the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program will conduct a workshop for giant clam and soft coral mariculture in support of the local project titled, “Initiation of a Community-based Marine Ornamental Giant Clam Industry in American Samoa.” The workshop engages the second phase of the project to establish grow-out clam farms. Also, the workshop is designed to bring technical expertise and training in giant clam and soft coral mariculture to ensure that resident participants have the skills and information to complete the project.
“For some time, I have been working closely with the UH Sea Grant College Program to develop clam farms in our local villages. As a result of these efforts, I am pleased that Sea Grant has been very active in such projects which I believe will help American Samoa diversify its economy. I have always believed that the ocean is our farm and that there is tremendous potential in aquaculture development,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
The workshop and site-assessments are scheduled for October 8-18, 2004 and will be under the advisory of the UH Sea Grant Program in conjunction with the local organization, Native Resources Developer, Inc. The Native Resources Developer, Inc. is a community-based development organization that was created to promote economic development through the establishment of giant clam farms and is associated with the Seawater Environmentally-controlled Aquaculture Network, also known as SEA. This network was created in the fall of 2002 and includes the partnership of the Native Resources Developer, Inc., the National Sea Grant College Program, UH Sea Grant Program, and also the Office of Congressman Faleomavaega.
“Mr. Simon Ellis, a marine consultant, will conduct the workshop as well as make site assessments in both Manu’a and Aunu’u for the new ocean-based clam farms. Mr. Ellis, with the assistance of Dr. Darren Okimoto, the Territory’s Sea Grant specialist, will also inspect and refine the progress of the land-based hatchery facility in Alao which was established under Phase I of this project. This facility will be used by the NRD for educational purposes and also as a training site for participants in the program. Mr. Ellis is a renowned scientist in the marine ornamental industry in the Pacific region, especially with U.S.-affiliated countries. He has assisted with similar aquaculture start-up projects within the Federated States of Micronesia in coordination with the College of Micronesia. Since 2002, Mr. Ellis has been a private consultant for the private sector and is now working closely with the University of Hawaii in establishing similar programs throughout the Pacific,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
In a 1999 survey conducted by the American Samoa Economic Development Commission, which was created at the request of Congressman Faleomavaega, 63.3% of those surveyed in American Samoa agreed that agriculture and fishery related industries should be encouraged for purposes of economic development. “Such projects and workshops for the clam industry benefit our economy by establishing sustainable programs not only for the local economy but also for the community as a whole. The U.S. marine ornamental business is estimated at $6 billion per year. There is no reason American Samoa cannot tap into this market,” the Congressman said.
“There is every reason to believe that American Samoa can develop a profitable industry and I am pleased that Sea Grant is continuing to assist us in this effort. At this time, I would like to thank Dr. Ronald Baird, Director of the National Sea Grant College Program, and Dr. Gordon Grau, Director of Sea Grant Hawaii, for their continued support. I would also like to thank Mr. Ellis for finding the time to fly to our Territory to conduct this special workshop,” the Congressman concluded.