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American Samoan governor gets tough with NOAA officials

PAGO PAGO (Talanei News/Pacnews) — American Samoan Gov. Lolo Moliga called a spade a spade when he met with officials from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation visiting the territory last week.

Lolo MoligaLolo Moliga
Speaking at Friday’s cabinet meeting, the first for the new administration, the governor said he told officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that their local office, is just that — an office, and it cannot dictate what American Samoa can and cannot do.

He said it’s not that American Samoa is against conservation, but it’s the way that the federal government has gone about the takeover of local waters included in the sanctuary that he has a problem with.

Lolo said he told the officials that NOAA has to connect with the local government instead of dictating federal rules.

Waters included in the Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa are prohibited for commercial fishing.

And there are also restrictions on take for subsistence fishing.

The governor said he told the feds that American Samioa is prepared to fight for ownership of its resources in the lawsuit now before the U.S. District Court of Honolulu, which goes to trial this week.

The visiting National Marine Sanctuary Foundation officials included the director, Kristine Sarri, who was making her first visit to the territory.