14 Jun 2013

American Samoa adamant shark protection is adequate

3:10 pm on 14 June 2013

The American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources director, Ruth Matagi-Tofiga, has strongly opposed a federal proposal to declare the scallop hammerhead shark as a threatened species in the territory.

The US National Marine Fisheries Service had sought public comments following a petition by two NGO groups which claimed the sharks are threatened by fishing.

Ms Matagi-Tofiga says there is already a territorial government executive order banning the fishing of all shark species in recognition that sharks are keystone species in maintaining healthy marine systems.

Ms Matagi-Tofiga says this regulation provides adequate protection to all shark species.

She also says the longline fishery has a built-in mechanism in American Samoa to avoid catching sharks.

Ms Matagi-Tofiga says Samoans recognise the importance of the ocean and have always had traditional knowledge and science to ensure their fishing is sustainable.