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NOAA releases revised Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary draft management plan for public comment

October 21, 2011

Anemonefish in Fagatele Bay

New species of Anemonefish in Fagatele Bay.
(Credit: DMWR - Doug Fenner)

NOAA today released a comprehensive draft management plan and environmental assessment for Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary in American Samoa. The new draft plan and accompanying proposed rule proposes the addition of five new reef and offshore areas, and a change of the name of the sanctuary to American Samoa National Marine Sanctuary.

The proposed new areas are Larsen Bay, waters around Swains Island and Muliāva, also known as Rose Atoll, and some of the waters around Aunu`u Island and Ta’u Island. Inclusion of these areas into the sanctuary will result in a high degree of protection for some of the oldest and largest known corals in the world.

“The draft management plan represents a milestone in the planning and development of our national marine sanctuary in American Samoa,” said Allen Tom, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Pacific Islands regional director. “It represents years of working with the local villages, chiefs, territorial programs and both the Delegate’s and the Governor's office to ensure that the needs and concerns of the people of American Samoa are recognized and their marine resources are protected for future generations.”

Based on several years of scientific assessment and public input, the plan serves as a roadmap for addressing issues facing the sanctuary over the next five to 10 years.

Moray Eel with coral

Divers with large coral at Ta'u.
(Credit: NOAA)

The draft plan updates the original 1984 management plan under which the sanctuary currently operates. The plan describes the sanctuary’s goals and guiding principles, regulations and boundaries, and guides future activities. It also sets priorities and performance measures for resource protection, research and education programs.

Comments from the public are requested on both the draft management plan and proposed regulatory changes. All comments must be received by Friday, Jan. 6, 2012. Written comments should be sent by mail to: Gene Brighouse, Superintendent, Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary, P.O. Box 4318, Pago Pago, American Samoa, 96799.

Comments may also be submitted electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal http://www.regulations.gov by clicking “Submit a Comment,” then enter NOAA-NOS-2011-0243 in the keyword search. Locate the document you wish to comment on from the resulting list and click on the “Submit a Comment” icon on the right of that line.

      Public meetings will be held at the following locations and times:

Copies of the draft management plan and environmental impact statement can be obtained by calling 684-633–5155 ext 264, or downloaded from the sanctuary’s Web site,  http://www.fagatelebay.noaa.gov.

Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary protects and preserves a fringing coral reef ecosystem nestled within an eroded volcanic crater on the southern coast of Tutuila, American Samoa. It is the smallest and most remote of all the national marine sanctuaries and is the only true tropical reef in the program. The site is uniquely rich in both natural resources and cultural heritage. Fagatele Bay provides a home to a wide variety of animals and plants that thrive in the protected waters of the bay.

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