Improving management of Samoa’s oceans through identification of special and unique marine habitats

Over thirty experts from across Samoa gathered in Apia for a one day workshop to map the country’s special and unique marine areas. These special and unique marine areas are home to a number of species and include habitats such as coral reefs, mangroves and seagrasses together with underwater mountains and valleys. Held at the Sheraton Hotel on 4th March, participants included stakeholders from relevant government ministries, NGOs and civil society organisations.

Samoa SUMA group photo

Samoa’s ocean forms an intrinsic part of the country’s history, traditions, culture and values.  Samoan people and places have a deep connection with their ocean spaces. Apart from providing a source of food and livelihood opportunity for its people, the ocean is also host to a wide variety of biodiversity including some unique and special marine plants and animals.

To better understand their ocean and its resources, the Government of Samoa, brought together marine experts from across all sectors in Samoa to map these areas that are truly special and unique.

‘Identifying and mapping these areas, is the first step to their long term protection. As Samoa’s begins to develop a Marine Spatial Plan, under our National Ocean Strategy, it is essential that we know where our special and/or unique marine areas are.  If we know where they are, we can better plan, manage and protect”, said Mr Ulu Bismarck, Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Throughout Samoa, there is a lot of knowledge held by experts. By bringing these people together we stand the best chance of mapping Samoa’s unique marine biodiversity,” Mr Bismarck continued.

Hosted by the government of Samoa, this 4 year Project to develop a marine spatial plan is supported by European Union’s Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+) Initiative along with technical support from the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Oceania Regional Office (IUCN ORO).

"The EU is committed to partnerships with the Government of Samoa and IUCN to achieve social and economic objectives in an open and planned way. Marine spatial planning is a key tool to promote the sustainable development and growth of the maritime and coastal economies by balancing demands for development with the need to protect marine ecosystems”, said Mr Christoph Wagner, Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific.

Marine spatial planning is a process to spatially organise how people use the ocean to minimise user-conflict and build ecosystem resilience and health. It is a whole of government process that balances economic, social, cultural and ecological objectives. 

 The outcome of this workshop will produce the first map identifying Samoa’s special, unique marine areas”, said Mr Mason Smith, Regional Director of IUCN ORO.

 “IUCN is pleased to provide technical support to Samoa as they develop their marine spatial plan. Samoa is a world leader and IUCN is privileged to join them in their journey to sustainably manage and protect their ocean biodiversity and heritage”, Mr Smith added.

It is envisaged that this workshop will complement the development of Samoa’s Ocean Strategy and will form part of broader Project to develop a marine spatial plan for its entire ocean.

This workshop was hosted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment with funding support from the European Union GCCA+ project and technical support from IUCN ORO.

 

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For more information, please contact:

Mr Atonio Mulipola, Project Coordinator, MSP Project, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) atonio.mulipola@mnre.gov.ws or Ms Maria Satoa, Principal Marine Biodiversity Conservation Officer, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) maria.satoa@mnre.gov.ws

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