Two more prominent individuals have joined the ranks of those who have signed the Declaration of Reef Rights and pledged to take action to protect reefs: Governor Togiola T.A. Tulafono of American Samoa and renowned marine artist Wyland. Both signed the declaration as part of American Samoa’s activities to celebrate both the International Year of the Reef 2008 and Wyland’s new marine life mural at the Executive Office Building in Utulei.
During the ceremony, Governor Tulafono said, “I know firsthand the importance of coral reefs locally, regionally and internationally. By signing this declaration, I hope to inspire others to join us in our conservation efforts to protect our coral reef ecosystems.”
American Samoa is the location of Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the smallest and most remote of America’s National Marine Sanctuaries and home to a diverse assortment of marine life including 271 species of fish and more than 200 species of coral. The Sanctuary is an integral part of American Samoa as it helps to enforce the relationship between Samoan people and their land, sea, and cultural traditions.
Globally, coral reefs and associated fisheries have declined dramatically over the past 20 years with some 20% of reefs damaged or killed. The Governor’s Coral Reef Advisory Group has identified four key threats to American Samoa’s coral reef ecosystems and has targeted them with Local Action Strategies: population pressure, land-based sources of pollution, overfishing and global climate change. American Samoa’s Local Action Strategies are the result of a continuing process incorporating input from territorial agencies, non-profit groups, interested individuals, stakeholder groups and federal agency partners.