Samoa Takes a Big Step for Oceans with a new Partnership with Blue Prosperity Coalition
The Independent State of Samoa has partnered with the Blue Prosperity Coalition and Conservation International to protect 30% of its ocean area and support the implementation of the Samoa Ocean Strategy. The partnership was formed through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which will create a plan to help sustainably manage ocean resources, support a Blue Economy for community livelihoods, and improve fisheries management.
The partnership will work toward the implementation of the Samoa Ocean Strategy, a set of goals established to plan and manage Samoa’s entire ocean, marine inland waters, territorial sea, and seabed for the coming decade.
Photo provided by Conservation International.
“At this critical moment, Samoa has taken the initiative to protect its ocean resources to secure a vibrant future for all its citizens. The comprehensive Samoa Ocean Strategy is an ambitious effort to ensure Samoa can use its marine resources without using them up; in fact, developing in a way that allows those resources to flourish,” said Ted Waitt, Founder of the Blue Prosperity Coalition, the Waitt Institute, and the Waitt Foundation.
“We applaud the bold leadership of the Prime Minister and the government and are honored to work together with international partners, and the people of Samoa to provide the funding and technical assistance to make their vision for healthy oceans a reality,“ said Heather Zichal, Executive Director of the Blue Prosperity Coalition.
The Samoa Ocean Strategy will guide and track Samoa’s goals for integrated planning and management of its ocean domain over the next decade. It will also serve as an integration tool to combine implementation and management of Sustainable Development Goals, regional policies, and international commitments that concern the marine environment. Drafting of the Strategy began in 2018 and its launch is dedicated to the memory of Ms. Sue Miller-Taei, former Executive Director of Conservation International’s Pacific Islands program.
The Waitt Institute will lead the effort on behalf of the Blue Prosperity Coalition, working with Conservation international and other partners to on the implementation of the strategy. This process will be science-based and community driven. New inshore and offshore marine protected areas will preserve commercially important coastal habitats, fish stocks, migratory routes for marine mammals, and deep sea ecosystems while allowing for responsible use of the marine environment. Protection of 30% of Samoa’s marine domain results in 36,000 km2 of new fully-protected Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), adding to the growing MPA network in the Pacific region.
Photo provided by Conservation International.
“Samoa is a large ocean state. Ninety-eight percent of our domain is ocean. Our waters hold exceptional marine habitats, from seamounts to biodiverse coral reefs, mangroves, and oceanic basins. These all contribute significantly to both the economy and the identity of the Samoan people. The Samoa Ocean Strategy will ensure the effective management and conservation of these rich waters, not only for a resilient and prosperous Samoa now, but for generations to come.” said Hon Tuilaepa Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa and acting Minister of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE).
Only 2.4% of Samoa’s entire territory is land mass, which is split between the two main islands, Savai’i and Upolu, and eight small islets. 80% of the 196,440 Samoan Islanders are directly dependent on the land and ocean for food, income, and general sustenance, and all residents live within 1 kilometer of the ocean. With a culture and economy tied tightly to marine health, Samoa has frequently been a leader in the conservation and management sphere. There are 3 existing MPAs, 75 villages have community-based management systems for their local coastlines, and the entire ocean area has been declared a sanctuary for whales, dolphins, turtles, and, most recently, sharks.
"Congratulations to the large ocean nation of Samoa, who today issued its strategy to safeguard the long-term health and well-being its ocean and its communities. We at the Waitt Institute are thrilled to have the opportunity to support Samoa in its efforts to achieve comprehensive ocean management and large-scale marine protection," said Dr Kathryn Mengerink JD, Executive Director of the Waitt Institute.
Despite these efforts, Samoa’s marine environment is facing threats from local stressors such as overfishing of local reefs, inadequately planned coastal development, and pollution, as well as the global stressors from the climate crisis and Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing due to limited capacity for enforcement.
The Blue Prosperity Coalition is currently working in the Pacific Island region, with partnerships with the Federated States of Micronesia and the Kingdom of Tonga, which shares ocean boarders with Samoa. In partnership with the Waitt Institute and the Vava’u Environmental Protection Association (VEPA), the Vava’u Ocean Initiative has made significant progress toward protecting 30% of its marine space, including conducting community consultations across the entirety of its 36 inhabited islands.
About Conservation International Conservation International has worked in the Pacific Islands region for more than 20 years, initially launching their program from Samoa, the heart of Polynesia. Conservation International works to protect the critical benefits that nature provides to people. Through science, partnerships and fieldwork, Conservation International is driving innovation and investments in nature-based solutions to the climate crisis, supporting protections for critical habitats, and fostering economic development that is grounded in the conservation of nature. They work in 30 countries around the world, empowering societies at all levels to create a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable planet. Learn more about the work in Samoa at www.conservation.org/samoa and the SOS Press Release. Follow Conservation International's work on Conservation News, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
About the Blue Prosperity Coalition
The Blue Prosperity Coalition is a network of NGOs, academic institutions, foundations, and other organizations working together to assist committed governments and local stakeholders to protect the environment and improve the economy at the same time. Based in San Diego, California, the Waitt Institute is a founding member and organizing body of the Blue Prosperity Coalition.