9 Dec 2004

American Samoan marine effort to take years

2:42 pm on 9 December 2004

A marine biologist in American Samoa says it'll be years before the territory can fully protect even a small number of its coral reefs.

The territory's governor, Togiola Tulafono, says his administration is committed to preserving at least 20 percent of the territory's coral reefs and strengthening marine protected areas.

The US federal government is funding a new 350,000 US dollar a year initiative, with a goal to protect a fifth of the territory's coral reefs.

Douglas Fenner, who is the chief biologist at the territory's Department for Marine and Wildlife Resources, says there are no fully protected areas in American Samoa and it'll take years to achieve the target.

"We certainly want to do as much as we can but actually at this point in time we have almost zero percent which that is completely no take. And it will take us several years and hard work to achieve 20 percent, let alone a higher goal."

Mr Fenner says establishing no take zones will involve banning commercial and recreational fishing in certain areas.