Samoan News, Tala Samoa
New American Samoa cannery opens in January
US-based Tri Marine International has confirmed that its multi-million dollar cannery plant in American Samoa is schedule to begin operations in January.
The company says that it's in the final phase of its four-year, 70 million US dollar rebuilding and expansion of what will be one of the industry's most state-of-the-art tuna processing facilities.
According to Tri Marine, the inauguration is planned for January 10th.
Tri Marine says the facility is anticipated to create 1,500 jobs when running at full capacity, with the ability to process the equivalent of more than one million cans of tuna daily.
Tri Marine chief executive officer, Renato Curto, says the new plant will enable US buyers to purchase high-quality tuna from US flagged vessels, processed in the US.
He says not only does this mean the products will be duty free coming into the US, but for those companies and organizations where 'Made in the USA' is an important distinction, Tri Marine can fulfill those needs.
Samoan PM lashes out at rugby players
By Michael Field
Samoa's prime minister says his nation's Manu Samoa players are being childish and they have to decide whether they want to play for money or country.
"If they don't want to play, then don't come," Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele said in what news website Talamua described as an agitated national broadcast.
"There are many players here who are looking for an opportunity."
He abused them for "foolish thinking" and said he had written them letters "addressing them as a father would to kids who don't understand."
He pointedly said his letters had been bilingual as there were players who did not understand Samoan.
Tuilaepa, who is also chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union, reacted angrily to a threatened boycott by Samoan players ahead of this weekend's England match at Twickenham.
Earlier this week the players threatened to go on strike saying they were not getting enough money.
The strike was averted when the International Rugby Board intervened to set up talks between the Samoa Rugby Union and the International Rugby Players' Association to facilitate urgent and collaborative resolution.
But Tuilaepa's angry outburst suggests the players are in for a hostile reception.
"The players play and deliver good results. The union provides the funding. If money is more important to some players than playing for their country, then they should let the union know," he said.
The threat to go on strike was childish and said the players were "little kids".
He said the strike threat had been issued by "two or three boys who are nearing retirement."
He did not name the players but said they were "trouble makers" who put money before country.
"The boycott is foolish thinking."
Tuilaepa said many of the players were on professional contracts with clubs and were making a lot of money.
"And if it wasn't for Samoa, they wouldn't have been recognised," the prime minister said, the Samoa Observer reported.
"Let them be reminded that a lot of them got contracts because of the Manu Samoa. They would not have made it without Manu Samoa.
"Their bread is from professional contracts they achieved because of Manu Samoa. If they didn't play for Samoa, they wouldn't have gotten those big contracts."
He said no one was forcing the players to play for Samoa.
"So submit your resignation and we'll select new players. There are lots of players in Samoa. This thing appears to have been stirred by overseas-based players."
On the claims over Samoan officials Tuilaepa said he told the players their job was to play and it was for officials to manage the budget and find the money.
"Our job is easy if you play and win but it's hard when you keep losing.
"It's like a coin with two sides. Our side will improve if they play well. We've lost to Italy and yet we used to beat them."
Reminding the players there are more sports than rugby, Tuilaepa said it might get to a point where the government will need to divert funding to other developments and focus solely on the Manu Samoa Sevens instead of the 15s.
"We're spending millions on these things and yet there are so much more developments needed by our country."
Tuilaepa played a rugby league card.
"We haven't given Toa Samoa a lot of money and they're now ranked fourth in the world," he said.
"How long have we tried to develop the Manu Samoa and yet we have slipped back to 11th?"
American Samoa voters head to polls to decide Congressman race.
Voters in American Samoa are heading to the polls today.
Polls on Tutuila, Aunuu and Manu'a were opened at six this morning, after ballot boxes were delivered under police escort.
Voters will cast ballots for members of the American Samoa House of Representatives, a delegate to Congress and a referendum to give the legislature the power to override the governor's veto of legislation.
A noticeable difference on this election day will be the absence of the smoke and smell of BBQs near polling places, as giving free food on election day has now been banned.
A total of 16,776 voters have registered for this election, a 6% drop over the number that registered for the 2012 elections.
Historically voter turnout is lower when gubernatorial candidates are not on the ballot and wet weather may also be a factor in this year's election.
With nine candidates, this year's congressional election will have its biggest field since the territory began sending a non voting delegate to Congress.
Incumbent congressman Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin is being challenged by Aumua Amata, Paepatele Mapu Jamias, Mark Ude, Meleagi Suitonu Chapman, Rosie Fualaau Tago Lancaster, Togiola Tulafono, Tuaau Kereti Matautia Jr. and Tuika Tuika.
The candidate with the most votes will be the winner.
Media Council Government funding shouldn't affect objectivity says Samoan Prime Minister
APIA, Samoa --- Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has made it clear in parliament Friday that the media remains independent despite likely Government funding to assist the Council establish itself in its initial phase of its their work.
However, Opposition Leader Palusalue Faapo 11 firmly believes the media’s independence will be jeopardized because of this financial assistance.
The issue raised concerns amongst some Parliamentarians; however, they changed their views after clarification by the Prime Minister who tabled the Media Council Bill.
Using the Opposition Party Tautua Samoa as an example, Tuilaepa said the financial assistance given to the Media Council is the same as the financial assistance given to Tautua Samoa.
Directing the question to Palusalue, Tuilaepa asked if he (Palusalue) has succumbed to the wishes of the Government.
He reminded Palusalue that as a former Minister for Communications and the media, he should know about these things.
“There are other councils and organisations funded by the government but it has not changed their negative opinions and criticisms of the Government.
Tuilaepa said Government has previously been asked and give its support to the local media when it hosted international conferences in Samoa because it did not have the financial backing to do these things well.
“But has that changed the negative criticisms of Government by the media?” he asked.
Meanwhile, former District Court Judge Lefau Harry Schuster has commended the Journalist Association of Samoa (JAWS) for setting up a Media Council as a statutory body.
In an interview with Talamua, Lefau said “not many organisations in Samoa are established as statutory bodies.”
Lefau was referring to the establishment of a Media Council that will be administered by the Journalists of Samoa JAWS which is the process of being established as a legal entirty as a statutory body. The Media Council Bill has passed the second reading in parliament and is now in the committee which is to report back to parliament for the Bills third and final reading.
Established in the 1970’s, JAWS was previously registered as an Association under Ministry of Commerce Industry & Labour (MCIL). However, due to non-compliance in filing annual returns, JAWS was de-registered in 2012 on MCIL’s advice to de-register then have the association re-registered as a new association.
Following a year-long lapse and without a clear explanation from MCIL, the association was written into the Bill that will now establish a Media Council. JAWS will be along the same status as a few other legal entities such as the Samoa Law Society, the Accountants Society and the Doctors Association.
“As a statutory body, there are rules and regulations that guide and protect the media,” said Lefau.
“You can’t get that protection being registered as an association with MCIL,” said Lefau.
He said the Media Council Bill is good for the media.
When it becomes law, the Media Council Bill has a complaints procedure and mechanism to deal with complaints from the general public against the media.
The Council also has the potential to assist in the professional development of the media.
Member of Parliament (MP) for Faleata West Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi said JAWS should be a separate entity from the Media Council.
He believes since the Council is now a legislated body, JAWs freedom of expression could be affected.
However, Lefau said the Bill is very clear on the distinct roles to be played by JAWS as the professional body and the Council as the regulatory body for the media and its work.
During the wide consultations to set up the Media Council and the Bill that now establishes the media body JAWS as a statutory body, senior media practitioners suggested that the Government to provide initial funding for the Council to set up and funding to be phased out over a period of time when the council should be self-sustaining.
The Media Council Bill is now with the Select Parliamentary Committee for further scrutiny and for public submissions then it reports back to Parliament for the third and final reading.
New Electric Substation in Tuanaimato opens
The Prime Minister and Cabinet officially opened the Fuluasou Substation and SCADA System at Tuanaimato on Friday 17 October 2014.
As part of the Power Sector Expansion Project – with funding from the Asian Development Bank, AUSAID and JICA - the opening of the Substation and SCADA System heralds a new era of energy management for the Electric Power Corporation in Samoa.
The Fuluasou Substation was built over 14 months, by Northpower Ltd of New Zealand. The contract included a new building; two power transformers and switchgears to interconnect Fiaga and Tanugamanono Power Stations; switchgears to distribute electricity and a standby generator.
The installation of new Substation means lengthy and overloaded distribution lines (sourced all the way from Tanugamanono) are able to be split in to several, shorter, more reliable distribution feeders. This means that electricity for some villages on the far western side of Upolu are now sourced directly from Fiaga while power for parts of Apia and the rest of the western areas of Upolu are now sourced from Fuluasou.
The new substation also ensures a dedicated and direct power distribution line to businesses and factories in the Vaitele Industrial Zone; whilst on the receiving end, it is also connected to the solar farm at Tuanaimato Racecourse via a dedicated pure transmission line.
During the dry season, electricity will be generated from Fiaga and transmitted to Tanugamanono via Fuluasou, and then distributed to the eastern parts of Upolu.
During the rainy season, electricity will be generated from hydro-power plants on the eastern side of Upolu, and then transmitted via Tanugamanono to Fuluasou where the power will be distributed to the western parts of Upolu.
The contract value for the Fuluasou Substation totalled SAT$14.5m.
The National Control Centre (NCC) is incorporated in to the Fuluasou Substation using the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system and took the contractor, Schneider Electric of Australia, 18 months to complete.
From this Control Centre, SCADA provides round-the-clock monitoring and control for all of EPC’s generation and key distribution sites on both main islands of Upolu and Savaii.
EPC now benefits from state-of-the-art systems providing a database upon which to maximise its operation efficiency. This means more accurate on-line data combined with an archive of historical data, allowing EPC to better forecast power generation needs, optimise relative allocations of renewable/thermal power facilities on an hour-by-hour basis, reduce reactive maintenance response time and improve preventative maintenance regimes.
Also provided under this contract, EPC now benefits from a corporate telephone system; a corporate IT network and the ability to commission CCTV systems bringing live images from key areas around the country back to Fuluasou.
The successful implementation of the SCADA system called for major communications infrastructure works, including: installation of 30km of multi-core fibre optic cable (underground in Apia area – Fiaga to Tanugamanono via Vaitele and Sogi – and overhead to some outlying areas including the Alaoa Valley); installation of high-capacity radio links to Savaii and eastern region sites; construction of 25 metre and 30 metre radio towers; UHF radio links to remote hydro supply sites.
At Salelologa, Savaii, a back-up Mini Control Centre (MCC) also operates full time, duplicating the functions of the Fuluasou NCC and provides an additional level of back-up in the event of disaster.
The contract value for SCADA totalled SAT$8.4m.
Former Samoa doctor escapes jail for stealing a bull and cow
A former prominent doctor, Le Mamea Emosi Puni, has escaped jail after being convicted for one count of stealing a bull and a cow.
The crimes carry a maximum jail sentence of seven years, but Samoa's chief justice, Patu Falefatu Sapolu instead ordered Puni to pay a fine of $450 US.
The village council of Pu'apu'a has already punished Puni for the offences, who gifted the village two cattle, 50 cartons of tinned fish, a fine mat, and a voluntary payment of $1,000 US dollars.
The judge took into account the 67 year olds age and several illnesses, as well as the penalty imposed by the village council when sentencing the Puni.
He must pay the court imposed fine within a week, or risk six months in jail.
Le Mamea Emosi Puni has previously been jailed for 12 months after being convicted of indecently assaulting a female patient who was under his care.
Samoan scholar lectures on use of English in Samoa
The use of English in Samoa today will be the focus of two lectures by Victoria University of Wellington’s 2014 Ian Gordon Fellow Letuimanu’asina Dr Emma Kruse Va’ai.
Dr Va’ai will discuss the position of Samoan and English as official languages in Samoa, the contexts in which they are used and the attitudes expressed towards these languages and towards bilingualism. She will also raise issues of language policy and of cultural identity.
“Dr Va’ai’s lectures will touch on a number of issues that are important not just for her native Samoa but also more generally for the Pacific region and for us in New Zealand,” says Paul Warren, an associate professor from Victoria’s School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies. “The co-existence of more than one language is a common experience in most Pacific Island communities, both in the islands and in New Zealand.”
Dr Va’ai studied at Victoria as a New Zealand Aid scholarship student in the mid-1970s, completing a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English and Political Science. She also completed an Honours degree in English and a teaching diploma. She was a senior lecturer in the Department of English Language and Literature at the National University of Samoa before becoming the University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor. She maintains a strong interest in linguistics, particularly in the use of language in bilingual Samoa. Her book,Producing the Text of Culture, documents the appropriation and use of English in various domains in contemporary Samoa. Dr Va’ai has also published poems and short stories for young adults and children.
Dr Va’ai’s visit is courtesy of the Ian Gordon Fellowship. The Fellowship was established through a gift from the late Professor Ian Gordon to the Victoria University Foundation to support and promote the study of English language and linguistics at Victoria.
As well as public lectures, Dr Va’ai will be meeting with staff and students in the School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies and in Va’aomanū Pasifika, which offers programmes in Pacific Studies and Samoan Studies.
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Samoa hoping for China funds for Apia Park renovation
Samoa is hoping China will help pay for renovations to its national stadium, Apia Park.
The ground is now closed for public use and is under renovation ahead of next years historic All Blacks rugby game.
The July 2015 test is slated to be the biggest match Samoa has every hosted is expected to attract thousands of visitors.
Our correspondent Autagavaia Tipi Autagvaia says the Prime Minister and Chairman of Samoa Rugby Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegao has asked for funding from China to help alleviate the renovation costs.
Shanghai Construction Group is the company working on the site.
Autagavaia says the work will change the layout of the ground.
"According to the Prime Minister the main stadium, the sports field and the main stadium needs to be expanded because of the size of the sports field we have now, the stadium is very close to the field so it needs to be pushed back so the main sports field has a lot of space."
Our correspondent Autagavaia Tipi Autagvaia.
Medicines seized in American Samoa
The Department of Health in American Samoa has confiscated a large quantity of medication, mostly antibiotics, at the airport, port and post office.
The department's Chief Compliance Officer, Papalii Marion Fitisemanu, says the medication seized requires a doctor's prescription, but it appears they were imported to be sold over the counter.
Papalii says some of the drugs seized through the mail look to be from relatives sending their personal prescriptions to family members on island.
The health department is looking into whether some of the drugs are being sold to locals, who then on-sell them, and says it also appears the drugs are intended for the Oriental fishing fleet.
Papalii says most of the medication seized was imported by Asians, purportedly for personal use, but appears to be in quantities beyond that of personal consumption.
Under local health laws only doctors authorized by the Health Services Regulatory Board can prescribe medication.
American Samoa teacher shortage affects pupils
The Director of Education in American Samoa says children are being hurt by a continuing teacher shortage.
Vaitinasa Dr Salu Hunkin-Finau says despite a recruitment drive in neigbouring Samoa netting nine teachers, the territory is about 25 teachers short.
Vaitinasa says her department has asked for volunteers with an educational background to help fill the gaps.
She says it is not ideal.
"There's no stability in the classroom and then if you have people that are not qualified in terms of education pedagogy and the content area we're basically providing almost like a baby-sitting situation. We're not providing the quality of instruction that we would like."
Vaitinasa says for the shortage to be resolved long term she hopes the college in the territory becomes a university to help provide a pool of fully qualified teachers.
Samoan Police jail a 3 year old
Samoa's police, already in strife over the death of a New Zealander in custody, are now defending themselves after locking up a three-year-old boy.
The Samoa Observer reports that the boy was locked in a police cell with his father who had been caught driving an unregistered vehicle.
The paper published a photo of the boy in the cell.
The man, who was not named by the Observer, said police had every right to detain him, he found it unacceptable that he was thrown into a police cell with his son.
"They then took me with my three-year-old son to their office at Apia at nearly twelve midday. Within minutes, we were thrown straight into the cell."
He said the officer did not pay any attention to him.
"My heart was beating that fast. My heart was melting when I looked at my son inside the cell."
His son was crying, and said that he was very hot so he took off his shirt.
"I was crying from the inside while I still looked at my son at the same time sitting and standing in a cell. My son said that he was scared but I told him that everything was going to be all right."
Acting Police Commissioner, Fauono Talalelei Tapu said the officers were within their rights to lock up the father.
"But for the child's case, the police should have called a relative to pick up the child," Fauono.
"However, the only time that the child is to be put inside if the father insists on taking his son home or if the son is crying to stay with his father."
This incident follows the death of Auckland man Hans Dalton, 28, on Christmas Day 2012 inside a Tafa'igata prison cell.
His body was found upside down in a water barrel and his death was initially ruled a suicide.
A mentally ill man, he had been on holiday in Samoa when he was caught in a hurricane and lost access to medication.
His death was treated as suicide by the Samoan police but a commission of inquiry chaired by ombudsman Maiava Iulai Toma found a series of blunders and cruelties that have led to dismissals and resignations.
Maiava wrote of how Dalton arrived at the prison and "mumbled to himself continuously but otherwise he was not an active threat to anyone".
Later he screamed loudly and shook the bars and punched the concrete walls.
"It is clear that the mentally ill man had kept up his loud screaming and occasional swearing throughout the night."
He was "heard to call out 'Lisa', his wife's name to the deaf world around him".
Maiava wondered why senior officers were not involved in helping Dalton.
"How could the pitiful cries of an ill, for all intents and purposes, totally trapped human being yearning aloud desperately for the comfort of his wife and children, not be heard in the midst of assembled police manpower poised in readiness supposedly, to keep the community safe?"
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Obama to expand ocean preserve to 6 times the size
President Barack Obama is carving out a wide swath the Pacific Ocean for an expanded marine preserve, putting the waters off-limits to drilling and most fishing in a bid to protect fragile underwater life.
The revamped expanded Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument will cover 490,000 square miles - an area roughly three times the size of California - and will become the largest marine preserve in the world. Millions of seabirds, sea turtles and marine mammals live in the bio-rich expanse included by the new monument, which will also add new protections for more than 130 “seamounts” - underwater mountains where rare or undiscovered species are frequently found.
The move to broaden the George W. Bush-era preserve comes as Obama seeks to show concrete presidential action to protect the environment, despite firm opposition in Congress to new environmental legislation. At the United Nations this week, Obama announced new U.S. commitments to help other nations deal with the effects of climate change, as world leaders seek to galvanize support for a major global climate treaty to be finalized next year in Paris.
“We hope the steps taken today by the U.S. government will accelerate similar actions by a growing list of coastal nations to protect more of the world’s great ocean treasures,” said Matt Rand, who heads the ocean program at the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Obama will sign a memorandum expanding the ocean preserve on Thursday, the White House said. Secretary of State John Kerry was also to discuss the announcement during an event Thursday on ocean sustainability in New York.
The president signaled his intent to expand the monument in June and asked for input on the final boundaries from fishermen, lawmakers and scientists. Officials said they received more than 170,000 electronic comments on the proposal.
The memorandum bans commercial fishing, deep-sea mining and other extraction of underwater resources, by recreational fishing will continue to be allowed. White House officials said they decided to allow some fishing in an attempt to preserve and encourage the public’s access to federal areas.
While a major symbolic victory for environmentalists, who long urged Obama to take this step, the designation will have limited practical implications. That’s because little fishing or drilling are taking place in the region even without the new protections.
The expansion also falls far short of what Obama could have done had he used the full extent of his powers.
Maritime law gives the U.S. control up to 200 nautical miles from the coast. Under Bush, the U.S. set aside waters extending about 50 miles from the shore of an array of U.S.-administered islands in the south-central Pacific, thousands of miles from the American mainland.
The islands sit between Hawaii and American Samoa and are divided into five regions. Obama is extending the preserve to the full 200 miles - but only for three of the five regions.
Had Obama expanded the preserve in all five regions, he could have protected more than 780,000 square miles, according to a geographic analysis by Pew.
AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed to this report.
Congressman Faleomavaega enjoys island time with Pres. Obama at White House Picnic
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that last week, September 17, 2014, he attended the White House Congressional Picnic at the invitation of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The annual summer event, which takes place on the White House South Lawn, was widely attended by Senators, Members of Congress, and their families.
“The White House Congressional Picnic presents an opportunity every year for the President, Senators and Representatives from both sides of the aisle, to come together, enjoy some good food and company, and remember that America is counting on us to work together on some of the most pressing issues facing our Nation,” Faleomavaega said.
“At this year’s picnic, I met with President Obama, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and my good friend, Chairman Frank Lucas of the House Committee on Agriculture, which has responsibility over American Samoa’s food stamp and voucher programs that I have worked on all these years to keep in place and increase our funding.”
“I want to thank President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama again for carrying on this annual tradition. So that the people of American Samoa can also feel that they were at this year’s picnic.” Faleomavaega concluded.
American Samoa immigration bill signed into law
American Samoa's Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga has signed into law the immigration amnesty bill, that would allow more than 2,400 foreign nationals who registered during the recent amnesty campaign to reside legally in the territory.
A provision of the bill also allows just over 1,000 people lawfully present and already in the Immigration Board queue awaiting their quota to become available to get their immigration ID issued.
In signing the bill into law, Lolo says he is pleased to have been able to work with the Fono on this measure to open the numerical limitations to enable qualified applicants to register their status in American Samoa.
He says these foreigners are contributing members of society, in some cases along with their families, who have fallen into circumstances, not always of their own making.
The governor says American Samoa owes these individuals the opportunity to become full-fledged members of the community.
The highest number of foreigners registered on the amnesty are from Samoa at nearly 2,900 individuals.
All foreigners who qualified under the Amnesty will now go through the Immigration Board for interviews and all must have sponsors.
The government had made clear that anyone with a criminal background will not be granted amnesty.
American Samoa's Nurses should be working closer to Samoa's nurses
The president of Samoa's Nurses Association, Taulapapa Faamanatu Nielsen, has called for closer ties with its American Samoa counterpart after they were severed over 20 years ago.
Taulapapa's comment follows the Prime Minister, Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi's call for American Samoa to reconsider its status as a territory of the United States.
Taulapapa says her support of the prime minister was the result of previous international meetings for nurses, where nursing representatives from the territory did not have a direct voice in discussions but sat behind as observers.
She says there used to be a healthy environment between the nursing professions, but that no longer exists.
Robert Wyland, Polynesian Voyaging Society crewmember and renowned marine artist, was inspired to paint a mural at the Ocean Center in Pago Pago, American Samoa, Tuesday.
Wyland enlisted the help of Nainoa Thompson, president of Polynesian Voyaging Society and master navigator, and local artists, to paint a life-size mural of marine life. Wyland flew into Pago Pago on Monday and on Tuesday he received permission to paint. The artwork took approximately half a day to finish.
The Ocean Center is engaging youth and communities with a message of ocean conservation, said Wyland. This is the same message Nainoa and Hōkūleʻa are championing, “and that’s where we need to put the light today,” said Wyland.
Wyland was asked to accompany Hōkūleʻa and her crewmembers to the United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States in Apia, Samoa. Wyland accepted the invitation to join the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage and do his part to help educate and inspire generations about conservation of our beautiful Island Earth.
“We need to raise awareness about the issues facing our ocean and our water planet in general… We need a healthy world and the way we are going to achieve that is people learning what they can do,” Wyland said.
Wyland will be sailing with Hōkūleʻa and her crewmembers to Apia, Samoa and is planning on asking community members if he can paint a mural for them. The paintings will represent thevoyage mission and the effort to protect our oceans.
“I am just proud to be here in American Samoa to be part of this great adventure of our day. It’s one of the most creative ways I’ve ever seen for people to see the connection to the one ocean that we have. We have only one and it’s a beautiful story that the Hōkūleʻa is telling and I’m proud to be a small part of it.”
The Hawaiian name for this journey, Mālama Honua, means “to care for our Island Earth”and is taking Hōkūleʻa and her sister canoe Hikianalia across Earth’s oceans to grow the global movement toward a more sustainable world. The Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines, will cover 47,000 nautical miles, 85 ports and 26 nations, including 12 ofUNESCO‘s Marine World Heritage sites, through June 2017.
Samoa's PM calls on American Samoa to change its status.
By Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luamanu email@example.com Apia, SAMOA — Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi says American Samoa should think really hard about their status — as a “Disorganized and Unincorporated territory —as they will always fall behind the United States of America when they come together for global meetings, like the Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) conference.”
Samoa News told the Prime Minister the correct status is “unorganized” but the Prime Minister repeatedly said “disorganized”.
During an exclusive interview with Samoa’s Prime Minister last week, Tuilaepa spoke on several issues which concern American Samoa.
For the SIDS conference, the PM pointed out with a conference such as this, American Samoa should have its own voice in this meeting, however that is not the case, as the Territory falls behind the US, because they are not independent.
He said, “This is similar to village council meetings, when the chiefs meet, the chief’s son always sits at the back behind his father. This is what’s happening here, when the world meets, the chiefs meets and American Samoa sits behind and waits for US.
“That’s what American Samoa should really think about, if they should continue to be sitting behind the US,” Tuilaepa said.
Of the Bumble Bee cannery, Samoa’s PM told Samoa News that Bumble Bee President and CEO Chris Lischewski is slated to break ground on schedule for the new cannery in December, and plans have not changed as they have already signed the Memorandum of Understanding. Tuilaepa said initially the plan was to ground break ground early next year, however the date has been changed to December.
He confirmed that the cannery operations will be at Matautu Wharf in the town area of Apia where Bumble Bee plans to build a processing plant for pre-cooked loins and frozen tuna products and the company expects to start with 250 – 300 direct employees.
Tuilaepa told Samoa News this is a promising project and they are happy with it, as they have been waiting for a cannery to open in Samoa, because not only will it benefit the Samoa government, but mainly the Samoan people, as they will be gainfully employed.
In a recent letter to Lori Faeth, the acting Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas of the U.S. Department of Interior, Gov. Lolo M. Moliga said he believes that the Bumble Bee Company’s plans to set up operations in Samoa threatens the “financial viability” of cannery operations in American Samoa. He was referring to companies like StarKist Samoa and Tri Marine International’s Samoa Tuna Processors Inc.
Lolo wrote, “The competitive advantage of these two assets (the canneries) will be compromised, not only because of the exemption of Bumble Bee from Federal minimum wage,” but also from U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and “many other Federal regulatory requirements.”
Tri Marine is on record as noting the Bumble Bee cannery’s primary impact from when it opens will be in the competition for raw material. It said, “To the extent that results in higher prices for the raw fish, that will impact on the competitiveness of the product from the Samoas in the world markets.”
Samoa praised for hosting an “extraordinary and shiny” conference. Talamua Media
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA: FRIDAY 05 SEPTEMBER 2014: The four days conference for Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) is labeled as an “extraordinary and shiny “ conference by the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General for the conference Mr. Wu Hongbo during the final press conference yesterday. With Samoa’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, His Excellency Ali’ioaiga Feturi Elisaia
“The UN appreciates Samoa’s tremendous hospitality and dedication in hosting a successful conference,” said Mr. Wu.
Mr. Wu said the UN office is amazed at what a small country can achieve.
The success of the conference according to Mr. Wu was not only the consensus adoption of the SAMOA Pathway but the smooth operation of the whole conference.
Asked why this conference was different from the Barbados and Mauritius conference, Mr. Wu said the last two conferences were label as government conference by their people..
“The Samoa conference, the whole country was involved and worked around the clock to ensure the success of it,” said Mr. Wu
Asked if UN would consider Samoa to host another SIDS conference, Mr. Wu said that was up to SIDS member countries.
This is the biggest UN conference to be hosted in the Pacific region and Samoa has outdone their best, said Mr. Wu.
According to Mr. Wu’s office who did a head count, 115 countries attended, 21 heads and leaders, 97 Ministers, 06 Associate ministers and leaders, 548 Non-Governmental Organisations and Civil Servants Societies and 3500 participants.
The Republic of Kiribati President Mr. Anote Tong congratulated Samoa for bringing the world to the Pacific.
“Samoa has done a great job,” said Mr. Tong.
France’s Associate Secretary for Foreign Affairs office Francois B. Hertland struggled with his English to find words to describe his feelings.
“I feel free and safe by the warmth and hospitality of the people,” said Mr. Hertland
He also made time to enjoy the Teuila festival evening shows.
Joel Raymond of Beguine Marseilles Africa enjoyed every moment spent in Samoa.
“I felt at home in Samoa,” said Mr. Raymond
Mr. Wu Hongbo at the lowering of the UN and Samoan flags and handing back of the conference facilities to the Samoan Government last night.
Mr. Raymond said Samoa and Marseilles have a lot of similarities in the weather and culture.
“Samoa is very colorful and the conference was excellent,” said Raymond.
Mark Paul of Vanuatu commended Samoa for a conference so well organised.
“I applaud Prime Minister and people of Samoa,” said Mr. Paul.
Even media personnel who travelled often to Samoa in the past were “impressed” with how the conference was conducted.
H.E. Ali’ioaiga was also asked why Samoa opted to host such a prestigious conference.
“It is a significant year for Samoa because it is the year Samoa graduates from being a member of the least developed countries (LDC),” said Ali’ioaiga.
For that reason, the Samoa government decided to host the 3rd SIDS conference as a landmark for her accession to the developed countries category.
“It shows the strength and quality of Samoa when it comes to tackling anything,” said Ali’ioaiga.
Samoa does not differentiate amongst partners but accept and welcome all her partners said Ali’ioaiga.
“It means we do not judge but we take.”
In the handing over ceremony of the UN and Samoa flag, Mr. Wu again extended appreciation and gratitude to the government and people of Samoa for an ‘extraordinary conference.”
UN chief rides Hōkūleʻa in harbor at Apia, Samoa Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also signs the Hokule'a's environmental stewardship pledge
APIA, SAMOA >> It was close, but Hokule'a and Hikianalia made it to Apia just in time to meet and sail with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, after battling through fierce winds and steep swells to finally leave Pago Pago.
By arriving in Apia Harbor early Monday, the canoe crews managed to secure a visit with the head of the U.N. but, perhaps more importantly, they had Ban sign the "Promise to Ka Pae'aina," a document that Hokule'a is carrying in its captain's box to collect pledges from around the world to be better environmental stewards to the world's resources.
It wasn't an easy task though, and it almost didn't happen.
When Hokule'a and Hikianalia crews pushed off the dock in Pago Pago on Saturday, on the other side of the International Date Line, they weren't sure the winds would allow them to safely clear the harbor there.
If not, they would have to turn back. However, after waiting four days for the weather to change with no luck and having reached the last day they could leave and still make the visit with Ban and other dignitaries, Hokule'a Captain Nainoa Thompson said it was important they at least try.
Pago Pago Harbor Master Wally Thompson first towed Hokule'a and its crew out to where the harbor met the open sea shortly before noon, and they encountered gusts and swells about 12 feet high. Thompson then calculated that the two canoes could maneuver safely enough on their own sail power to clear the island of Tutuila, where Pago Pago is located, and make for Apia.
Crews crossed the date line while working hard through the night to keep the canoes on course, even as the weather improved a bit. Three apprentice navigators aboard Hokule'a kept their bearing using traditional wayfinding overnight.
Hokule'a crews then worked swiftly at sunrise to outfit the Polynesian voyaging canoe with its traditional crab-claw sails, for effect, while they simultaneously cleared customs with officials on a nearby ship.
They were then greeted by several hundred Samoans, including traditional dancers and singers, waiting for them at the harbor as an intense Apia sun rose higher overhead.
Ban and an entourage of about a dozen people then sailed around Apia Harbor for about 20 minutes before he signed Hokule'a's pledge -- a move that Thompson and Polynesian Voyaging Society officials see as a significant first step toward getting the U.N. to help better protect marine resources. They hope to revisit Ban's commitment either next year or in 2016, when the canoes are slated to arrive in New York.
Also on board Monday was renowned marine biologist and National Geographic Explorer-In-Residence Sylvia Earle.
Ban was curious about the canoe and its Malama Honua "Care for the Earth" global voyage -- he asked crewmembers where the name Hokule'a originated. He was told it was named for the star, also known as Arcturus, that reaches its zenith directly above Hawaii.
He's here to attend the U.N.'s once-in-a-decade Small Island Developing States conference -- a forum taking place this week to discuss the unique issues and challenges facing sea-locked nations
It's also the last high-level U.N. event before Ban convenes a summit on global climate change later this month to discuss realistic goals for the future to combat its effects -- and issues discussed here at the SIDS conference, unique to small islands, could influence the discussions poised to take place several weeks from now in New York, officials say.
Several Hokule'a crew members, including Eric Co and Jenna Ishii, will serve as delegates at the SIDS conference this week after working nearly 24 hours straight to get the canoes safely to Apia.
Hokule'a and Hikianalia are expected to leave Friday for the far-flung island atoll of Tokelau, north of Samoa.
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research works with Samoan village
A unique pilot project to help Samoas largest village better cope with natural disaster is the focus of an upcoming exhibition at the Museum of Samoa timed to coincide with a major United Nations conference in Apia.
A unique pilot project to help Samoa’s largest village better cope with natural disaster is the focus of an upcoming exhibition at the Museum of Samoa timed to coincide with a major United Nations conference in Apia.
The Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States opens on 1 September and is expected to attract about 3000 international delegates.
The pilot project was initiated by NIWA marine geologist Geoffroy Lamarche and Wellington architect Cécile Bonnifait. It aims to help the Samoan community build its resilience to natural disasters and proposes some new building solutions that take into account Samoan culture and local materials.
It focuses on the village of Sa’anapu on the south coast of Samoa’s main island, Upolo and combines expertise in science, anthropology and architecture. The village was badly affected by the 2009 tsunami, during which near 150 people lost their lives, and Cyclone Evans in late 2012.
Much of the village is built on a sand berm bounded by mangroves and a fringing reef. Both mangroves and the reef have highly prized ecological, economic and cultural values for the village. Rising sea levels are causing erosion and retreat of the sand berm, meaning the village has been progressively moving but not in a controlled or planned manner. Early engagement with the council of Matais (chiefs) of Sa’anapu has enabled everyone to work towards developing a stronger future for the village.
The exhibition will showcase some of the work already completed and includes physical models of new village facilities that it is hoped will be built at Sa’anapu. NIWA has been involved in assessing the potential impact of a tsunami on the village, by generating a numerical model of a tsunami originating from the Tonga Trench, and in estimating frequency of natural disasters.
Other components of the project include planning for a community centre that transforms into an emergency shelter during natural disasters, relocation of a pre-school outside the high hazard area, and training Samoan experts to continue collecting survivor stories.
Dr Lamarche says the relationships between the natural environment and the architectural and social environments are rarely accounted for in projects involving coastal island communities.
“We are merging research, creativity, construction and knowledge transfer in a very exciting way. But what makes this pilot project really special is its focus on finding modern solutions that retain and preserve the cultural heritage, history and traditions of the village.”
Ms Bonnifait says they want to create a new focal point for the village by creating a community building that is a contemporary adaption of traditional Samoan architecture. Those involved have been working alongside local Matai to learn more about the village history, and with craftsmen, guardians of the traditional building techniques.
“The engagement the people of Sa’anapu is crucial to the success of this conceptual project. We were fortunate that the council of Matai of the village was willing to collaborate with us. One of the orators – Popese Leaana (Tupu) – has a unique skill set that combines excellent technical expertise of local and traditional construction and a direct knowledge of the effects of climate change and natural hazards on the village. ”
Funding for the early stages of the project has been a joint effort between NIWA and the Pacific Fund, created in 1985 by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in order to promote social, economic, scientific and cultural development and integration in the Pacific.
The exhibition opens at the Museum of Samoa on 28 August and runs until 24 October 2014. The official opening will be on September 1 and will be attended by Samoa, New Zealand, France and New Caledonia dignitaries as well as many Sa’anapu residents. Dr Lamarche says the next stage of the project is to secure more funding so that this conceptual project can progress to a feasibility stage.
The exhibition opens at the Museum of Samoa on 28 August and runs until 24 October. The official opening will be on September 1 and will be attended by Samoa, New Zealand, France and New Caledonia dignitaries as well as many Sa’anapu residents. Dr Lamarche says the next stage of the project is to secure more funding so that this conceptual project can progress to a feasibility stage.
Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
Media bill tabled in Samoa
A bill establishing a media council in Samoa is now before the Parliament after being tabled by the Prime Minister.
The Media Council Bill would make the media body, the Journalism Association of Western Samoa, as the implementing body of the council, which would then act as an independent professional association.
Legislation drafters have moved to abolish the criminal libel laws under the Crimes Act and amend the Printers and Publishers Act to ensure the protection of journalists' sources.
The Media Council will also investigate public complaints and introduce a Code of Practice and Code of Ethics.
A member of JAWS and lecturer at the National University of Samoa, Misa Vicky Lepou, says the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, tabled the bill yesterday, and it's hoped there will be debate on the bill before Parliament ends today.
She says if not, the bill will be debated in the next session.
Lolo favours American Samoa constitution change
American Samoa's Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga says the time is right to change the constitution in order to give the Fono veto override authority of legislative measures.
At present if a bill that was vetoed by the governor is approved again by the Fono, the governor sends the bill with his comments to the US Secretary of the Interior who makes the final decision on whether the bill is signed into law.
Under the constitutional amendment, if the governor vetoes a bill, each chamber can pass the bill again and if passed, the governor must sign the bill into law.
The proposed amendment will be on the ballot in November and the governor has urged directors to help make sure voters understand what the amendment provides.
Lolo says the US Department of Interior will support what the public wants.
Mystery virus affects nearly 100 in Samoa
Samoa's Ministry of Health says nearly 100 people have now been affected by a mystery virus.
Two people have also died from but authorities still aren't exactly sure what the virus is.
Samoan Ministry of Health's Dr Saaine Vaai told Pacific Beat patients are showing signs of two separate illnesses.
"Well initially we thought we were seeing acute fever and rash, which is one of the things we do look for," she said.
"But as of Saturday we did get the confirmation of some of the specimens that we sent out for chikungunya.
"We're still waiting for other specimen confirmation."
In neighbouring American Samoa there have been more than 300 confirmed cases of chikungunya and authorities say a traveller between the two countries brought some strain of the virus to Samoa.
Dr Vaai says a public campaign to raise awareness about the outbreak and educate people about precautions to take has begun.
"This is the first time that we've have had this virus in the country and we are working with experts from WHO (World Health Organisation) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community to control it," she said.
Officials say five people have been admitted to hospital with symptoms of the virus.
American Samoa and Samoa have Pacific's cheapest fuel
The latest edition of the Pacific Fuel Price Monitor has shown American Samoa and Samoa to have the lowest fuel costs in the region.
The monitor found prices in many Pacific countries are far cheaper than those in much bigger markets like Australia and New Zealand.
Petroleum advisor at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community Alan Bartmanovich told Pacific Beat that although most Pacific countries are getting fuel from the same import shipments, American Samoa and Samoa have much better deals in place.
"They own their own fuel facilities and the oil companies have to come to them to make the deals if they want to sell fuel in their countries," he said.
"In American Samoa and Samoa people actually have to go to the government and ask permission to deal there. And in that negotiation they make sure that they get the best prices available.
"As opposed to other places which have permanent suppliers and the oil companies own the facilities and are pretty much in control of the markets."
Fiji was a close third for low fuel costs in the region.
Mr Bartmanovich says other Pacific countries are starting to learn lessons from American Samoa on how to deal with the big oil companies.
"If the governments want it to happen it can happen," he said.
He says concerns about striking specific deals with oil companies and having less competitive marketplaces are warranted.
But he says he has a simple answer.
"People have said 'oh, if you make it not competitive or they (oil companies) make less money they're going to leave' and I said 'well yeah, but I don't know any place in the world where there is a demand for oil and there isn't somebody willing to supply them'."
Once local taxes are taken into account, American Samoa still has the lowest fuel prices. But Samoa falls down the list.
Kiribati is the second cheapest when tax is included and Guam third.
Wallis and Futuna holds the mantle for the most expensive fuel in the region, with Cook Islands not far behind.
Palau and Guam are the clear leaders for charging the least amount of tax.
CEO of Starkist visits American Samoa
U.S. based StarKist cannery says its new chief executive and president Andrew Choe is in American Samoa for a week long visit.
While in the territory, Mr Choe will be spending time at the StarKist Samoa plant, and will meet with a number of local government and business leaders.
Mr Choe had said once he took over the leadership post on November the 1st, he wanted to visit American Samoa as soon as possible to show his commitment to the local Samoan leadership and to the StarKist Samoa employees.
He says StarKist Samoa's ongoing success would not be possible without StarKist employees' hard work and commitment.
Funds raised to help Samoa children
An Auckland chapter of the Samoa Victim Support Group has officially launched, with hopes of raising more awareness and support for vulnerable children in Samoa.
The Auckland group raised over 12,000 US dollars for the SVSG, and presented the cheque to its president, Lina Chang, at a launch dinner over the weekend.
An Auckland volunteer, Jamie Su'a, says it's important that the Samoan community in Auckland joins in the fight to help abused children back home.
She says the money they raise will go towards providing a future for those children.
"Providing them with a home, or shelter, a roof over their head. Food to feed them to get by, schooling. Just providing the basic necessities as well, and giving it to them, because obviously they don't have it. Lina and her crew has stepped in and provided that for them, so it's maintaining that."
Jamie Su'a says they want to help to ensure the work the SVSG is doing in Samoa continues.
Fisheries hub planned for Asau
By Nanai Laveitiga Tuiletufuga, SAVALI
Plans are in the pipeline for Savai’i to have its own Fisheries Division.
Cabinet has endorsed a project to upgrade Asau wharf as headquarters for the new Fisheries Division for Savaii.
“We plan to renovate Asau wharf and construct a marina dock for alias and small fishing boats,” said Fisheries chief executive Fonoiava Sealiitu Sesega in an interview this week.
“There will also be hatcheries, fish ponds and tanks for research purposes. Office facilities will also be constructed.
But funding is the biggest obstacle delaying the project
“We have requested financial support from the Asian Development Bank and the Government of Turkey.
“China is also a consideration. Once funding is secured, the project will then proceed.
“The concept is to utilise Asau and hopefully attract investors such as a cannery to the Big Island.
“We are thinking big but starting small.
“Having a fisheries research sector in Savaii is also a plus for the fishing industry there.
“And it’s all about providing economic opportunities for the rural community by decentralizing our services from Apia.
“At the end of the day, it will be the families and our communities that will be the main benefactors.”
Friction in American Samoa over farming program
American Samoan farmers have repeated their fears to the Governor that foreign farmers are buying up land and cashing in on government programmes to the detriment of locals.
More than 100 farmers met Lolo Matalasi Moliga to complain that the 17-million US dollar budget for the School Lunch Programme is not reaching locals.
Galumalemana Bill Satele says he thinks about half of the budget is benefitting foreign farm owners.
But the Director of Agriculture, Lealao Mel Purcell, says many Samoans lease their land to Asian developers, who run plantations, and while Samoans grow staple crops, such as taro and banana, the foreign famers grow a greater range of vegetables - the kind that the School Lunch Program needs.
According to data provided by the Director of Education, Vaitinasa Dr Salu Hunkin Finau, 194 farmers are registered to sell produce to the School Lunch Programme, and 40 of them are Asian farmers.
She says the programme is aimed at buying local produce but farmers are not producing enough.
Woman is convicted of Bigamy
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA: FRIDAY 17 OCTOBER 2014: A woman has been charged with bigamy and could face imprisonment if found guilty.
The Acting Police Commissioner Misa Tala’imanu Nafo’i Keti confirmed that the woman’s husband filed the charge against his wife.
The penalty for bigamy is 10 years imprisonment.
The names and villages of the accused are withheld for several reasons.
But the case revolved around the woman taking another legal husband when she was in New Zealand while still married to the complainant.
According to police report, the woman went to New Zealand to raise funds for the village church christening (fa’aulufalega).
While in New Zealand, she married another man.
The husband in Samoa knew about the marriage but waited until she returned.
Misa said the wife admitted to her husband her marriage in New Zealand hence the complaint.
The matter is still under investigation.
Samoan travel agent pleads guilty to one count of wire fraud
$360,000 stolen from high school traveling group
By Fili Sagapolutele
A Samoan travel agent, accused by federal prosecutors of defrauding a high school marching band by stealing $360,000 and using the money for gambling and trips to Samoa, has pled guilty at the federal court in Springfield, Missouri.
New court records, filed by prosecutors, reveal that Calliope Rocky Saaga, aka Ope, of Utah, wire transferred $100,000 in 2012 from his business bank account — a bank in Samoa. He is from Samoa.
Saaga, 40, was charged in May this year under a 15 count indictment. He was faced with several charges of wire fraud and money laundering. However, court documents show that he appeared yesterday before U.S. District Court Judge David P. Rush and pled guilty to only one count of wire fraud under a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Electronic court records didn't show when Saaga — who is out on bond — will be sentenced. Because it was already after hours in Missouri when Samoa News received word of the plea agreement, neither prosecutor nor defense attorney could immediately be reached for comments.
However, court records say that both sides have until Nov. 3 to file a response to a pre- sentence report and plea agreement.
The 17-page agreement provided some details that weren’t included in the indictment, such as the fact that Saaga was seen in video surveillance camera gambling in Las Vegas. There were also emails sent to Chris Church, band director of the Willard High School marching band.
Saaga, who operates a business called Present America Tours LLC, was contracted in January 2011 to make travel arrangements and lodging for 300 students and their chaperones from Willard for a trip to Hawai’i in the summer of 2012.
Total trip package was $360,000 and the money was wired transferred on 12 separate occasions to Saaga, who didn’t use the high school band funds for the intended purpose of booking airfare, lodging, transportation, meals, tours, and travel insurance.
Instead, Saaga diverted the money for his benefit, according to the plea agreement, which also states that financial records and other documents show Saaga gambled in the Las Vegas, Nevada area at least 47 days during the 12 month period the band transferred funds to his company.
The agreement went on to say that on Jan. 23, 2012, the band director received an email from Saaga, who apologized for not getting in touch.
“I went straight to San Francisco from Samoa and have been there the past 2 weeks dealing with a family tragedy,” the email said in part. Saaga also claimed that he was heading to Utah and that he would make contact thereafter.
Contrary to the email, prosecutors say that video and casino records revealed that Saaga used his time gambling at six Las Vegas casinos between Jan. 5- 21, 2012. Prosecutors also identified in the plea agreement the name of each casino.
And on Jan. 26, the defendant sent another email to the band director, this time talking about the trip and ground arrangements in Honolulu for the band. The agreement further revealed details of another email, Apr. 9, 2012, that lulled the band leader into believing that the band trip was still a reality. (The agreement provided specific details of each email message).
However, in a second email on Apr. 9, 2012, Saaga offered apologies and that he will not be able to provide the services he was contracted to offer.
“I write this letter with a heavy heart and deep deep sorrow for letting you and the group down. I made some terrible decisions with the money and am now in the midst of trying to sell every asset I have in Samoa to pay the group back. It will be a slow process so I beg of your patience as my number one priority to get every cent I owe to the group,” the email said in part and purported to have been sent from Samoa.
“I am limited with correspondence here in Samoa as I try to recover all the funds. I am terribly sorry again... I know I have betrayed you and the groups trust in me. I have had a rough go with all personal relationships the past several months and made some bad decisions in trying to recover the funds for the group’s trip. My priority at this point is to make things right with the group...,” the message said.
The agreement went on to say that prior to, and during the time Saaga communicated with the band director, the defendant continue to use the high school band’s funds which were being wired to his business account for his own benefit.
For example, in November 2011 and March 2012, the defendant withdrew a total of $96,000 in cash in Las Vegas, where casino records show he was gambling in Las Vegas at the time.
The agreement also states that on Apr. 20, 2012, Saaga wire transferred $100,000 to the National Bank of Samoa and that Saaga is from Samoa.
According to the agreement, wire fraud — a felony — is punishable by not more than 20 years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release. He must also pay in full any restitution ordered by the court.
Meanwhile, Saaga has an identical case pending at the federal court in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he is facing a three count indictment for wire fraud and aiding and abetting. The charges stem from three separate wire transfers totaling $272,500 between 2011 and 2012 from the Southside High School Marching Band for their trip to Hawai’i in the summer of 2012.
Like the Missouri marching band, the Southside marching band never made the trip because Saaga used the money for his own benefit.
Saaga is expected to appear in the next couple of days at the Fort Smith federal court to enter a change of plea from not guilty to guilty.
- See more at: http://www.samoanews.com/content/en/samoan-travel-agent-pleads-guilty-one-count-wire-fraud#sthash.fz5BIMhY.tHG08nnf.dpuf
Teachers from Samoa arrive in American Samoa
The first group of Samoan teachers hired by American Samoa in a bid to improve its education system have arrived in Pago Pago.
The American Samoa Education Department Director, Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin-Finau says the 25 qualified teachers were selected from more than 100 applicants, and will teach in American Samoa for the next two years.
Vaitinasa says hiring qualified teachers from Samoa is part of the department's initiative to place highly qualified people in the hard-to-fill areas of maths, science and english.
An orientation training for the teachers from Samoa will be conducted before they report to their schools this week.
Vaitinasa says it is likely more teachers from Samoa will be recruited to fill the continuous shortage of teachers.
Fiji exports latest batch of sheep to Samoa
SUVA, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- Fiji's Ministry of Agriculture has organized the latest shipment of Fiji-bred sheep to its Pacific neighbor Samoa, the Fijian government said Monday.
Bred at a privately owned multiplication sheep center in the northern Fijian island of Vanua Levu, the latest sheep development "demonstrates years of attempt by the government to get this project running", said the Department of Information.
Tomasi Tunabuna, director for animal health and production of the Ministry of Agriculture, said this is the first of its kind to export 100 breeding female sheep from the multiplication center ever since its set-up six years ago.
Another 10 sheep, male, from a research station of the Ministry of Agriculture, have also been exported, he said.
The 110 sheep were sent on the request from the Samoan government to the Fijian government, Tunabuna said, adding that the sheep were carefully quarantined before departing for Samoa.
Fiji had exported sheep to its Pacific neighbors in the past.
"In 2004, we managed to export 40 breeding ewes (female sheep) and four rams (male sheep) to Samoa while in 2005 we were able to ship four breeding rams and 40 breeding ewes to the Kingdom of Tonga," said Tunabuna.
Four police officers in Samoa suspended in relation to jailing of 3 y/o
Four police officers, including an inspector, have been suspended in Samoa as a result of an inquiry into a 3-year-old who was locked in jail with his father last Friday.
The father was taken into custody for driving an unlicensed vehicle, and his son, who was in the car at the time of the arrest, was also taken into police custody.
The acting Police Commissioner, Misa Talaimanu Keti, says an internal inquiry found there was a breach in the performance of police duties, especially by the suspended officers who had dealt with the matter.
The officers will appear before a police tribunal on the 28th of October.
Misa says the Ministry of Police and Prisons is now looking at providing further education for the officers on how to handle matters involving children.
11 years for social media sex case in Samoa
In Samoa, a 27 year old man has been jailed for eleven years after he was found guilty of nine charges including rape, indecent assault, and filming his unlawful sexual acts.
There is concern in Samoa at the increase in cases involving the new crime of filming and uploading to social media cases of sexual assault.
The police said the defendant threatened the 19 year old woman that he would show the world what had happened to her if she told anyone.
Four months after the offences the woman was told by her fellow students they had seen naked images of her on Facebook.
Samoa remembers Police officers who passed away in service
The families of five Samoan police officers who died in service have been presented with certificates of honour in appreciation of their service to the islands.
The Acting Police Commissioner Fauono Talalelei Tapu says the presentation was made at a ceremony to mark the second Police Remembrance Day in Samoa.
Fauono says four of the men died due to heart complications while working this year while another died in 2013.
He says their service is deeply appreciated by the government and people of Samoa.
Fauono says the force also took time to remember those serving overseas.
"We also remember our brothers serving in Sudan and in Solomon Islands and in Darfur. They are still there in good condition but we still remember them as they are away from home. They are also in good health and they are well looked after."
Samoa's acting Police Commissioner Fauono Talalelei Tapu
Samoa health ministry advises about ebola
Samoa's Ministry of Health with support from the World Health Organisation has issued an advisory amid concerns about the Ebola virus disease.
It comes after the Prime Minister and chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union, Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, has revealed a decision to cancel Samoa's sevens rugby team attending an international tournament in Kenya.
The Prime Minister says there will be other times for the sevens to compete but it is better not to go this time because of fear someone might get infected.
But the health ministry says the WHO maintains that the risk of importing a case of Ebola into Samoa remains low because currently there are no direct flights from affected areas.
But it says the advisory should still be taken notice of.
New legislation hoped to control slaughter of Samoa's livestock
The head of the livestock division within Samoa's agriculture ministry says new legislation before parliament will introduce controls around the slaughter of animals.
Laumata says Samoa's self-reliance on breeding its own cattle from imported livestock is currently threatened by the uncontrolled slaughter of animals to be sold or used for occasions such as funerals and traditional events.
Leota says the proposed legislation -- awaiting its third reading -- will also control meat processing to ensure food safety standareds in Samoa.
Meanwhile, a second shipment of more than one hundred tropical sheep is due to arrive from Fiji next month, which is hoped to increase the number of locally-bred animals that can be sold to farmers.
Manu Samoa Sevens players in court on assault charges
Two Manu Samoa Sevens rugby players have appeared in the district court, facing one count each of assault with intent to obstruct.
The two, Alatasi Tupou and Patrick Faapale, have entered no plea because the court is awaiting confirmation from the police prosecution on a move by a male complainant to withdraw the case against them.
This should be finalised when the matter will be heard in court again on Monday.
The charges come after a young man was allegedly assaulted by the suspects for pointing them the finger.
Alatasi Tupou is one of the 12 players selected for the Manu Samoa Sevens rugby team to play in next month's Foru 7's tournament and the first leg of the IRB Sevens circuit in the Gold Coast in Australia.
Samoa works to save more trees
The Samoan government is working with villages to protect their forests from increasing threats of climate change, unsustainable land use and invasive species.
Supported by the UNDP and the Global Environment Fund, the Integration of Climate Change Risks and Resilience into Forestry Management project engages 26 communities across Samoa to better manage the forest resources on which they rely.
Mary Baines visited one of the forests, at Luatuanu'u Village, just outside of Apia.
The UNDP administrator, Helen Clark, says stronger forests reduce the risk of landslides, flood and poor water supply, and will help protect communities against cyclones and other natural disasters.
HELEN CLARK: Climate change is changing their lives. This country is getting hotter, it's getting wetter, it's getting more frequent and more intense storms. Where you have a lot of introduced, non-indigenous vegetation, it doesn't stand up to this very well. So part of the project is about planting more appropriate trees which can withstand these effects.
Ms Clark says as part of the project, villages have made three-dimensional models of their forest areas to see a birds-eye view of how the rivers, agricultural land and entire ecosystem work together.
HELEN CLARK: Projects don't succeed unless the local people want them, own them and drive them. And that's what we've seen with the 3D modelling here. The village has said yes, we want to be part of this, we're going to design it. And it's given a full understanding of this ridge to reef concept, that we need holistic ecosystem management from the mountain-top down to the lagoon and ocean.
The Head of Forestry at Samoa's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Moafanua Tolusina Pouli, says strengthening forest management will protect native species and biodiversity.
MOAFANUA TOLUSINA POULI: Working very closely with the community how they assist in protecting those areas because of the genetic biodiversity conservation, and also the ecosystem services, because they're relying on the water supply and also the birds, and native ones.
The project also involves re-planting native trees in community nurseries, and with the help of the Samoa Farmers Association, the productivity of low-lying agricultural land is being improved so there's less need to encroach into upland forests. Ela Tavita, who lives at Luatuanu'u Village, says the project has made a difference to the community.
ELA TAVITA: It's important for us to plant the cabbage, carrots, to earn some money for our village, for the future of our kids and also the people of this village.
The Global Environment Fund's Chief Executive Officer, Naoko Ishii, says the model has provided the Samoan government with valuable local knowledge which will be used in future national forestry plans.
NAOKO ISHII: Local knowledge is now connected to the national policy, that's the key. I'm so pleased to see how it works on the ground and how everything fights against climate change. So I'm so assured that this is the model we can continue to pass on for the future.
The project has a budget of 2.4 million US dollars until 2015.
Samoa Police Commissioner to fight cabinet termination
The Samoan government has upheld a recommendation by a Commission of Inquiry to terminate the service of the Police Commissioner, Lilomaiava Fou Taioalo, because he breached his duties.
It's the result of a separate Commission of Inquiry into alleged corruption and abuse of power in the management of Tafaigata prison.
The Prime Minister, Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, says the Commission recommended for Lilomaiava to retire, which means he has had his service terminated.
But Lilomaiava told our correspondent that he has not been served or informed of a decision.
Lilomaiava says he is seeking legal advice, and will comment further when he receives a written decision.
American Samoa receives major disaster declaration
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa. The federal government is approving American Samoa's request for help with storms, flooding and landslides that caused more than $5 million in damage and left one person dead.
The White House announced the major disaster declaration for the territory on Wednesday. The territory's governor wrote to President Barack Obama last month for help with the heavy rain, flooding and landslides that occurred from July 29 to Aug. 3, which left many people homeless.
The declaration makes federal funding available to local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations to repair or replace damaged facilities.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency says additional disaster designations could be made later if requested by the territory, based on damage assessments. Someone from FEMA visited Pago Pago for two days last month to assess the damage.
Samoa keen on methane
By Vaughan Elder
One man's rubbish is another man's electricity.
Neville Auton, who as Dunedin City Council energy manager, was behind the successful initiative to capture methane from Green Island landfill and convert it to electricity, is pushing the idea in Samoa.
Now an energy consultant for Otago Polytechnic, he has just returned from the United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States, held in Apia, where he spoke about the idea.
In order to progress repeating the Green Island initiative in Apia the polytechnic had signed a memorandum of understanding with the National University of Samoa and Mr Auton was confident the idea could work in Apia.
Renewable energy was a major focus at the UN Conference, as island states grappled with their reliance on diesel-generated power.
Samoa - which relies on diesel for 60% of its energy - was keen on the idea.
''In the past, there has been rhetoric, but this time they were really looking for action,'' Mr Auton said.
Assessing the viability of the project would likely be a two-year project.
''We will be looking at research projects with the university over there to get accurate data to make decisions on.''
That would include quantifying the different types of rubbish which came into the Apia landfill.
Small island conference leaves ‘legacy with impact’ – UN
4 September 2014 – With $1.9 billion pledged in sustainable development partnerships, the United Nations on Thursday wrapped up its small island developing States conference and kicked off a drum roll of action on climate change.
The Secretary-General of the Third International Conference on Small Island and Developing States, Wu Hongbo, characterized the summit, the largest of its kind in the Pacific, as “extraordinary.”
Briefing journalists in Apia, Samoa, Mr. Wu said 297 partnerships between governments, businesses, civil society and UN entities had been announced during the four days.
“Without a doubt, these partnerships leave a legacy with impact,” Mr. Wu said. He added that the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), which he heads, will take on the responsibility of reporting on the commitments' progress to hold the participants to account.
The partnerships are in the areas of sustainable economic development, climate change and disaster risk management, social development, sustainable energy, ocean health, and water and sanitation, food security and waste management.
They are in line with the conference's outcome document, nicknamed the Samoa Pathway, which was unanimously endorsed at the last plenary session today.
"The time for speeches is over,” Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi said in his closing statement. “We must now set sail with determination that the course of action we have chartered here… will be delivered to achieve our priorities."
The end of the conference begins the countdown to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Climate Summit on 23 September at UN Headquarters in New York.
"This conference actually starts what the Secretary-General calls the drum roll of action," said Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres. "Climate change is an anchoring issue at the conference in Samoa, which in 2009, experienced an earthquake and a tsunami."
The UNFCCC is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. In this context, Ms. Figueres is overseeing talks between countries for a universally accepted climate treaty to be hammered out next year in Paris.
Following today's events, the UN flag was formally lowered over the Tuana'imato sports complex, symbolically returning the site to the Government of Samoa.
Samoa hosts hundreds of global leaders for talks on developing island states
Hundreds of global leaders from government, NGOs and the private sector have descended on the tiny Pacific country of Samoa for rare talks on how to develop island states.
The once-in-a-decade meeting is being led by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.
Opening the conference, Mr Ban again called for urgent action on climate change.
"We need a meaningful, universal, legal, global climate agreement by the end of next year in Paris," he said.
"The costly affects of climate change are evident everywhere but nowhere more so than in SIDS (small island developing states).
"I'm very concerned that the world is not on track to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius."
A new UN development program report to be presented at the conference says one in four Pacific Islanders are living below the poverty line.
The report says the global financial crisis, migration and non-communicable diseases have weakened Pacific economies, and some governments are even struggling to provide basic social services.
"There is a small window and with the right kind of policy choices, which we outline in the report, I think we can turn this situation around," the UN's Peter Batchelor said.
The UN says the average Australian or New Zealander can expect to live 10 years longer than someone from Vanuatu, and 20 years longer than a person from Nauru or Kiribati.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is at the conference in the Samoan capital, Apia, and has announced an additional $20 million in funding to help Pacific countries improve living standards.
Ms Bishop also urged regional leaders to build stronger partnerships with the private sector.
"In the Pacific we must be open to finding new, effective, clever ways of helping support economic growth," she said.
"And we must recognise that the challenges faced by small island developing states mean that private sector development will sometimes need government partnership."
Parliamentary Secretary Brett Mason will also address the conference, speaking about how oceans and marine resources can drive economic growth.
Samoa records 269 affected chikungunya fever cases
The number of people affected by chikungunya in Samoa has increased from 51 to 269 in the last two weeks.
The Ministry of Health Director General, Leausa Tole'afoa Dr Take Naseri, says an ongoing clean up and spraying of mosquito breeding sites is continuing with aircraft and ships being sprayed.
He says laboratory tests have shown two deaths thought to be caused by chikungunya were not.
3,000 people from around the world are expected in Apia from later this week week for a major UN conference, and the Ministry has said it hopes to have the outbreak under control by then.
Samoa gets pat on the back from UN for SIDS preparation
Samoa has been congratulated by a senior United Nations official for its preparations for next week's Small Islands Developing States Conference.
The UN's Under Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, Wu Hongbo, who arrived in Apia on Sunday, has commended the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, for spearheading preparations for the conference.
In a joint news conference, Prime Minister Tuilaepa says 3 thousand people are expected to attend next week's event with 20 government leaders expected to participate.
American Samoa objects to Obama conservation plan
Owners of longline fishing boats in American Samoa say the US President's proposal to expand an ocean conservation area in the Pacific will damage the territory's fishing and tuna canning industry.
In a letter to Barack Obama, the Tautai o Samoa Longline and Fishing Association says it strongly believes the move is needless and will serve no purpose in the President's efforts to combat overfishing.
The Association points out that the US commercial fishing fleet in the Pacific targets highly migratory pelagic species and President Obama's proposal for the intention of preservation would be meaningless.
It says American Samoa as a hub of the Pacific US fishing fleets faces dire consequences should this expansion take effect.
Guam - As a result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage Hour Division, the American Samoa Government agreed to pay $177,300 in predominantly overtime back wages to 111 workers employed throughout the government by Aug. 27.
The American Samoa Government also failed to pay an additional 1,491 workers for 133,354 overtime hours worked. These back wages will be paid back to the affected workers throughout the year.
"The latest findings reflect our continuing collaborative efforts with American Samoa government officials to correct past deficiencies in the manner in which work hours were recorded and paid," said Terence Trotter, the division's district director in Hawaii.
"We will continue to train their staff on the compliance principles of the Fair Labor Standards Act."
Call for more action on Chik in American Samoa
Health officials have told a Senate committee in Pago Pago that the total number of people infected by chikungunya had reached 501 compared to about 390 two weeks ago.
Senator Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono says it is time for health officials to seek help from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
However our correspondent Monica Miller says the Department of Health reports it has done a major clean up in villages and the department is in touch with CDC officials on a weekly basis.
"I think it is beginning to stabilise according to the numbers. They are just stressing that - there is no cure for this. The key is prevention and I think people are now more aware of what is going on."
Our correspondent, Monica Miller.
Kolhase found not guilty of manslaughter in deaths of 2 due to car accident
“I don't accept the verdict. Let God be the judge of this matter”
Tears were aplenty in and outside the Supreme Court late yesterday evening where 19-year-old, Leslie Kohlhase, was found not guilty of four charges against her.
The verdict, delivered by four assessors after less than two hours of deliberation, was greeted by sighs of relief by Kohlhase, her legal team and supporters.
Kohlhase had pleaded not guilty to two charges of manslaughter and two alternative charges of negligent driving causing death.
The crash at Vailoa last year, which led to the charges against her, caused the deaths of Jessie Risale, 22, of Vaimoso and Thesaurus Heather, 20, of Tufuiopa.
Last evening, all four assessors were convinced that she was not the driver of the vehicle that morning. In doing so, they found her not guilty of all the charges.
The verdict followed two days of final submissions by lawyers.
Kohlhase was represented by Lei’ataualesa Daryl Clarke and Unasa Leilani Tamati. They are up against the prosecution team made up of Precious Chang and Leone Su’a
Mailo, of the Attorney General’s Office.
The Chief Justice, his Honour Patu Tiava’asu’e Falefatu Sapolu, presided.
The prosecution claimed that they had proven beyond reasonable doubt that Kohlhase indeed drove the vehicle that crashed and killed the two young men last year.
Further, they argued that it had established quite clearly that the accused drove recklessly, endangering the lives of people in the car.
But Leiataualesa disagreed. He reiterated that Kohlhase did not drive the vehicle when it crashed.
Kohlhase’s lawyer said evidence throughout the past three weeks had proven that her client was not the driver when the crash happened.
In the end, the assessors agreed with Lei’ataualesa.
Chief Justice Patu later dismissed all the charges against the defendant.
Neither Lei’ataua, nor his client or any of her relatives would speak to the media after yesterday’s verdict.
Outside the Court room, however, the mother of the late Thesaurus Schuster Heather, May Heather, was in tears.
“I don't accept the verdict,” she said. “This is really not fair for our families. There is still no justice.”
Ms. Heather said she understood that the assessors could have found the defendant not guilty of some of the charges but to have acquitted her of all the charges was simply unacceptable.
“So I’m very disappointed with the verdict.”
Asked if they would appeal, she said they would have to think about it.
For now though, she said: “Let God be the judge of this matter.”
Chik Virus is still spreading in American Samoa
More cases of chikungunya, or chik, virus have been recorded in American Samoa.
The Health Department Director Motusa Tuileama Nua says there are now more than 390 recorded cases of chikungunya, with seven patients hospitalised and no deaths since July the 1st.
That is an increase in confirmed cases of about 45 over the last week.
In an updated health alert, health officials say the chik virus usually lasts one to two weeks but joint pain and stiffness can last many weeks or months.
It says other complications are rare and it pointed out that there is no cure for chik virus.
The government has now set up a chikungunya hotline for residents to call and the health alert urged affected residents not to travel outside Tutuila, even to the territory's Manu'a island group.
Health Alert after two AFR deaths in Samoa
Samoa's Ministry of Health has reported two deaths from Acute Fever and Rash or AFR, saying it is now an outbreak with most cases coming from the Apia urban area.
A press statement from the Director General, Leausa Toleafoa Dr Take Naseri, says there have been 21 recorded AFR cases as of Tuesday this week with four people hospitalised at Tupua Tamasese Meaole hospital.
Three children aged between 2 and 13 and one 45-year-old man were admitted to the intensive care unit.
The ministry says collaboration with other government agencies, and media campaigns, aim to raise awareness of the outbreak and help its containment.
Samoa has also sought assistance from the Ministry of Health's development partners including the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the World Health Organisation.
American Samoa’s Governor Lolo Moliga back after five months absence
PAGOPAGO, Americana Samoa ---- After five months absence, American Samoa’s Governor Lolo Letalu Moliga has returned to the territory.
The governor left in February for a meeting in Washington D.C. but fell ill and was admitted to hospital.
The government hasn’t given any information on his illness but media reports says it’s understood he had a heart procedure while in hospital in D.C.
The Governor later travelled to Honolulu where he was also admitted to hospital and had been there since undergoing treatment as an out-patient.
The Governor has returned as the Senate is drafting a resolution questioning his extended absence.
300 plus chikungunya cases in American Samoa
The American Samoan Department of Health says there are now more than 300 confirmed cases of chikungunya or 'chik' virus in the territory.
The Health Director Motusa Tuileama Nua says his department and LBJ hospital have confirmed the outbreak of fever, rashes and joint pains among people on the main island of Tutuila is due to chikungunya.
He says there have been 343 recorded cases, with six patients hospitalised and no deaths, since the beginning of July.
He recommends those who are ill with fever and body aches do not travel off island.
Prematurity bulk of baby deaths in Samoa
A doctor at Samoa's baby unit says women need to seek medical care early in their pregnancies to avoid the risks of premature delivery.
The World Health Organisation says preterm birth is the world's largest killer of newborn babies, causing more than one million deaths each year, but 75 per cent could be saved without expensive, high technology care.
A Pediatric Registrar, Dr Litra Esera, told Jenny Meyer in Samoa babies born up to ten weeks early are able to be supported but up to half do not survive due to overwhelming infection.
LITRA ESERA: For Samoa we had a pediatric symposium that we conducted back in 2011 and that was when we did an audit on causes of admissions into our nursery unit which is where we host the premature babies. So prematurity made up the bulk our deaths in our nursery unit. But the causes that I know, in Samoa we have quite a lot of unbooked mothers, so infection is hard to rule out so that must be the leading cause of prematurity in our setting. Probably infection and undiagnosed infection, things like urinary tract infections in mums. As well as multiple pregnancies is the other one, twin pregnancies, we have quite a lot of premature twin deliveries and we do lose some of them.
JENNY MEYER: How is the standard of care for premature babies in the Pacific Islands? I guess they're very expensive to care for given that some of them need to stay in hospital weeks or even months?
LE: Yes, So at the moment we are able to support babies that are 30 weeks and above, if they don't have any overwhelming sepsis. But we do try and care for them in our nursery unit and I'd say half of them do make it, the other half don't really, because the infection is the main reason, overwhelming infection.
JM: What can be done to try and help these very vulnerable babies do you think? What can women do to try and keep a pregnancy you know running the full term of 40 weeks rather than going into premature labour?
LE: So at the moment because we've got quite a lot of women who sort of book late, or don't book at all, they just turn up to give birth sort of thing and come in in labour with a premature pregnancy. So booking would be one of the first things. Just encourage them to do their booking bloods, do a urine test and so they can be supplemented if needed. That would be one of the things that we are trying to push for at the moment back in the periphery. Because we have a lot of traditional healers and it's still quite prevalent in our population to sort of go to the traditional healer, rather than coming to hospital in the first instance when one becomes pregnant.
Samoan Associate Minister charged with theft and forgery
Samoa's Associate Minister of Trade, Commerce, and Industry, Muagututagata Peter Ah Him, is standing trial on charges of theft, false pretences, forgery and altering documents.
The charges against the minister arose from an investigation into a complaint by the Grand Ocean company in which the minister is a share holder.
Muagututagata is accused of offences involving about 30 thousand US dollars that the Chinese company had paid for the release and clearance of two containers from Customs.
Muagututagata has denied all charges.
Samoa village turns down Chinese tourism venture
Village leaders of Sale'aula village in Samoa have turned down a proposal by a Chinese company for a tourism development project in fear of losing their land.
Sale'aula's Member of Parliament Levaopolo Talatonu Vaai coordinated the deal and was surprised at the last minute decision not to sign the lease agreement with Grand Ocean Ltd.
Levaopolo says the hotel project would have helped the district in terms of employment and financial stability.
He says the fear of losing land is not a good enough reason and believes there was more to the decision than that.
"I am thinking there's a lot of political tactics from these few people of the village. But unfortunately, they missed it. And I also told them this project is not for us in this time but it's for our children and the next generation in the future."
Levaopolo Talatonu Vaai says the constitution ensures that customary land in Samoa can only be leased, not sold.
American Samoa tuna industry leaders raise concerns over Kiribati's reduction of US fishing access
By Jemima Garrett for Pacific Beat
Tuna industry leaders in American Samoa say Kiribati's decision to reduce the fishing days it is offering the United States could be devastating for the local community.
The rich waters of Kiribati are vital to American Samoa and to the Pago Pago-based US tuna fleet, which used 5,000 fishing days last year.
Earlier this month, Pacific Island nations signed a $90 million tuna deal with the US government and its fishing industry.
But during negotiations for the extension of the US Tuna Treaty, Kiribati offered just 300 of a total of 8,300 fishing days for 2015.
Trimarine, one of the world's biggest tuna companies, has recently committed $70 million in new investment in its Pago Pago processing facility.
Chief operating officer Joe Hamby said Kiribati's change in policy was a big disappointment.
"This decision by Kiribati to limit the number of fishing days available under the US treaty for these boats that are based in American Samoa or anywhere for that matter, it has a direct and immediate impact on the fishing community of American Samoa, where half of the population is working in the tuna industry," he said.
Neighbouring Pacific countries to Kirbati have offered fishing days to replace those the US has lost, but Mr Hamby said they were not feasible options.
"Kiribati's EEZ [exclusive economic zone] is only two to three days away from American Samoa. Fishing grounds in Papua New Guinea or Solomon Islands or Federated States of Micronesia are as long as 10 to 12 days away.
"It's simply not economical for those boats to go such a distance to fish and then turn around and come back all the way to American Samoa."
Despite the lucrative deal in this year's tuna agreement, Kiribati believes it can get a better rate for its days from other countries.
The 25-year tuna treaty, which has strategic importance for Washington, is a complex arrangement with many vested interests.
Of the $90 million due to the Pacific next year, $21 million is in treaty aid.
Transform Aqoraum, the chief executive of the PNA, the organisation representing the eight tuna-rich nations, is among the industry leaders calling for an overhaul of the tuna deal.
Mr Aqoraum said market-based mechanisms such as auctioning or tendering for fishing days will work much better, adding that when the treaty is renegotiated aid can be used to ensure all Pacific nations still benefit.
Palolo harvests are slim in American Samoa
By B. Chen
The thousands of local residents who lined the territory’s shores during the early morning hours of Wednesday and Thursday went home with wet clothes and empty buckets, after the anticipated palolo swarm failed to show.
An official from the Dept. of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR) said yesterday that their office has received no official word from anyone who found palolo this week, so a big swarm could occur in November.
Years ago, calculations on when the palolo would rise were based on the full moon. If the full moon occurs during the first and second week of October, chances are, the palolo rise would be strong in November. However, if the full moon occurs during the last two weeks of October, then the palolo swarm would be strong that month.
News from Apia, Samoa said that the palolo rise there was very strong, with people selling an ofu (fist-sized portion) for $30WST, with some being sold as high as $50WST.
On the Big Island of Savai’i, half-full buckets of palolo were being sold for $1,000WST, while containers full of the sea delicacy were priced at $50WST at the Salelologa Market.
The palolo activity in independent Samoa plays a part in the local predictions for the palolo rise. Many say that if the swarm is strong in Samoa in October, it will make its way to the territory in November. We’ll have to wait and see.
Last year, hundreds of people came prepared with flashlights, mosquito netting (cheese cloths), and buckets, ready to rush into the water and catch the once-a-year occurrence.
The general consensus is — palolo will rise every year either in October or November, sometimes during both months. Last year, a good showing occurred in October as local residents were able to take some home while ‘alia fishing boats that went out to sea came home with buckets full of the slimy worm.
Based on reports from 60 people, who were interviewed by DMWR last year, an estimated 461lbs. of palolo was collected last October, which averages out to about 7.7lbs. of palolo catch per person. Of course, this is based solely on the answers collected from the 60 people who were interviewed.
No palolo survey was conducted by DMWR in 2012 because of the weak swarm. The purpose of the palolo survey, according to an initial interview with DMWR’s Yvonne Mika, “is to collect data on the relative harvest of the palolo spawning in volume.” She added, “this information will assist DMWR’s long term monitoring of fisheries and the palolo trends through the years.”
Palolo is the edible part of a polychaete worm (Eunice viridis) that lives in shallow coral reefs in the south central pacific area where it uses its sizable jaws to dig itself a burrow in the limestone substrate. Most of the year it lives quietly, feeding on algae and microorganisms, small crustaceans, and even its own young.
Nineteen Chiefs’ of Police from around the Pacific – including Samoa – are gathering in Auckland for the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police annual conference, hosted by New Zealand Police Commissioner, Mike Bush.
Samoa is represented Acting Police Commissioner, Fauono Talalelei Tapu.
The major focus of this year’s gathering is, Prevention through Regional Collaboration. As well as the re-admission of Fiji back into the fold now that it is no longer under military rule.
Commissioner Mike Bush says “The benefits of collaboration on law enforcement issues that affect the Pacific cannot be overstated”.
“This annual P.I.C.P. conference provides a valuable opportunity to assess ongoing actions within our work programmes and advance our thinking around Prevention”.
Cyber crime, illicit drugs, organised crime and family violence are common crime themes that will be addressed this week by the Pacific police leaders. A focus will also be placed on the development of more women into the various Police organisations.
“We will see strong leadership this week with the agreement of a new P.I.C.P. strategic plan. This plan has a strong preventative theme and innovative strategies that would be developed across the police organisations in the next five years.
“It’s very important that New Zealand Police in partnership with other jurisdictions continue to assist and develop Police organisations in Pacific Island countries. This will help to ensure law and order remains stable in all communities and
countries, and the Pacific remains safe and secure,” said Mr Bush
Conference delegates were welcomed this afternoon.
New Zealand Ambassador for the Pacific Economic Development, Shane Jones will officially open the conference.
Japan will fund the Apia Wharf expansion
By Nanai Laveitiga Tuiletufuga
Japan has committed funding to upgrade the Matautu Wharf.
The project includes expansion of the wharf, which according to Ports Administration Minister Manu’alesagalala Enokati Posala, will allow larger cruise ships to dock at Matautu.
“It will also expand the present container storage facility to meet the ports growing trans-shipment demands,” he said.
“The project will also address the safety of passenger and security of port employees.
“But total funding will not be determined until early 2014.
“Japan has committed to fund the project from their annual grant allocation to Samoa. But the funding component will not be finalized until consultants from Japan meet with officials at our Ports Authority in January.”
“I am very happy that funding has been secured for this important project.
“The current dock will be extended by another 135 meters.”
JICA-Japan’s International Cooperation Agency Programme Advisor Tetsuti Nakasone said;
“When completed, the dock will be 300 meters long – enough to cater for larger cruise ships. The dock expansion also includes a safety enhancement component for cruise ship passengers and lighter vessels.
“An initial scope and study of the Apia Harbor found that this is most favorable. It will minimize the dangers posed by the underwater swells in the harbor.”
Meanwhile, according to the Ports Minister, upgrading the Matautu wharf is all part government’s regional port vision.
“The idea,” he said, “is for Matautu to eventually compliment the proposed Vaiusu Port project.
“Matautu will be the transhipment center where goods can be stored and transhipped to neighboring Pacific Island countries.
“Ongoing transhipment trials for fish exports to American Samoa by long liners have shown that there is huge potential for Samoa to be a transhipment point.
“We are very optimistic especially with the latest word from Japan this week reaffirming their support in principle to design, build and fund the proposed upgrade.
“We want to maintain Matautu wharf as a second port of entry.
“The thinking is for Matautu to concentrate on the transhipment of goods and as a support dock for the main port to be built at Vaiusu.
“Right now, Shanghai Construction of China has submitted its funding bid to the Chinese Government to build the Vaiusu Bay Project.”
If all goes well, said the minister, construction of the first phase of the Vaiusu Port should start in 2016.
Philippine company promises American Samoa jobs
A company from the Philippines hoping to set up a multi-million dollar food processing factory in American Samoa says it will take advantage of benefits that allow American Samoa-made products duty free entry into the United States.
The principal owner of AVM Bernardo Engineering, Anthony Bernardo, says he has been pursuing a processing venture in the territory since 2009 and he hopes to break ground on the 100 million US dollar plant by the end of the year.
Mr Bernando says the proposed plant will employ 700 locals to make fish-based products for export.
He says the American Samoa government has been supportive of the proposal.
American Samoa to vote on veto override, giving us an excuse to write about American Samoa
Reid Wilson Washington Post
Millions of dollars, perhaps more than a billion, will be spent on some of the 150 or so initiatives, referenda and propositions around the country this year. Voters in American Samoa, however, probably won’t face the inundation of outside spending on their big ballot measure this year — one that would give the legislature the power to override a governor’s veto.
But that just gives us an excuse to take a look at the tiny U.S. territory, home to 55,000 residents spread across five islands and two coral atolls buried deep in the South Pacific. They do things a little differently there: The legislature is the only one in American jurisdiction that doesn’t have veto override power.
A few other items of note about American Samoa, which has been a U.S. territory since 1900:
Polynesian Airlines gets extension in American Samoa
Polynesian Airlines is to continue its service to Manu'a for another 30 days after the US Department of Transportation approved the airline's request for an extension to cabotage waiver.
Cabotage is a federal rule preventing foreign carriers from flying between two US destinations.
In its application for an extension, Polynesian said that no US carrier was serving the Pago Pago to Manu'a route.
The department ruled that it was in the public interest, and allowing the Samoa carrier to continue its service to Manu'a until October 30th should prevent unreasonable hardship to residents of American Samoa.
The agency has deferred Polynesian's request to operate through to November 30.
Volunteers to fill teacher shortage in A.Samoa
American Samoa's Governor has asked volunteers to fill teacher vacancies at public schools as a short-term fix for the territory's teacher shortage.
Lolo Matalisa Moliga has asked for the volunteers to fill in for two to three weeks until the Education Department has processed new recruits from Samoa.
The Governor says he only learned of the teacher shortage last week, and isn't happy that no-one from the department approached him to ask for help.
The Director of Education, Vaitinasa Dr Hunkin Finau, says the shortage is an annual problem because some teachers abandon their jobs without giving any word.
However, Governor Lolo says he can't accept that the Education Department didn't foresee the shortage.
The mysterious disappearance of a “big white dog” the Police apparently caught at the Magiagi Cemetery at 3am last weekend has left the men in blue miffed.
So much so the Police Force has since changed the working hours for members of the K9 Unit so that they no longer work past 10pm.
Acting Police Commissioner, Fauono Talalelei Tapu, told the Samoa Observer that the mystery started when members of the Unit picked up the “big white dog” with three other dogs at Magiagi that morning.
“The dog was locked in the back of the vehicle,” Fauono said. “It was locked along with three other animals that were found in caged traps that had been left in the area.”
Fauono said the mystery dog was not found in a cage.
“It was wandering around the area when the officers pulled it in and loaded it into the back of their vehicle.”
Officers of the Unit, however, were mystified upon arrival at the Police headquarters in Apia to find that the “big white dog was not there.”
“When they checked to see how it could possibly got, they found that there was no damage anywhere to indicate that it jumped out of the vehicle while it was moving,” Fauono said.
“There was also no sign of the door being opened while the vehicle was heading towards the police headquarters.”
Fauono said officers were alarmed and up until now, they are still trying to work out what happened.
The Acting Commissioner though has some ideas.
“People might consider this as us being superstitious but it’s reality that we still have ghosts roaming today,” he said.
In light of the incident, Fauono said “the officers at the unit have been told to get off work at 10pm.”
Fauono said he does not foresee any problems with this since by that time, all the traps have been set to catch stray dogs.
“This means that they will not be taking in any more early morning calls from families around Upolu,” he said.
As for the mystery dog, Fauono said; “We don't know how it could have possibly escaped. It was locked in between two other cages. So there is no way that it could have escaped or get out.”
So who let the dog out?
Samoa Gets World Bank Grant For Promoting Economic Growth
The World Bank and the Independent State of Samoa have signed an agreement for a US$7.5 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA), it was announced Friday.
According to a World bank statement, the grant is the first in a two-part operation aimed at strengthening public finances and supporting continued economic growth in Samoa.
The agreement was signed by Samoa's Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi in New York on Friday.
"This grant will contribute towards national efforts in taking forward the Samoa Pathway outcomes of the recent Small Island Developing States Conference," Prime Minister Malielegaoi said.
"The continuing reforms are important to the implementation of the key priorities for the Government of Samoa, boosting shared prosperity across the country," he added.
The grant will contribute to strengthening public financial management as well as a sustainable tourism policy and private sector development. Improvements in the payments system will also have important impacts for remittances which are critical to many Samoans, contributing, on average, almost 25 percent to GDP over the last four years.
"Strong public financial management ensures effective use of public resources allowing for better delivery of services to everyday Samoans in areas such as health, education and infrastructure," said Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank Group Vice President for East Asia and the Pacific. "
"This grant is part of our comprehensive support program for Samoa and its people. We have a strong and deep relationship with Samoa and are committed to a long term partnership focused on supporting the country's development strategy," he added.
Samoa is an important Pacific Island country that faces significant challenges related to external shocks and natural disasters. In recent years it has weathered the global financial crisis and natural disasters including a tsunami in 2009 and a cyclone in 2012 that caused combined damages and losses estimated at 30 percent of GDP.
"This operation will be implemented alongside other World Bank support in Samoa such as post-cyclone recovery and reconstruction work including infrastructure restoration, boosting agriculture productivity and strengthening the tourism industry," the statement added.
by RTT Staff Writer
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Prime Minister of Samoa receives UNWTO/WTTC Open Letter on Travel and Tourism
In recognition of tourism’s vital contribution to socio-economic development, particularly in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, has received the UNWTO / World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Open Letter on Travel and Tourism on the occasion of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States.
The UNWTO/WTTC Open Letter calls on heads of state and government around the world to acknowledge tourism's key role in delivering more sustained and balanced growth and prioritize the sector higher in national policies in order to maximize its potential.
Meeting UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, and WTTC Chairman, Michael Frenzel, on the sidelines of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, Tuilaepa said:
“Sustainable tourism is an area that our government has placed much importance, as it holds key potential for future economic growth and social development. Great benefits from tourism are envisaged and have already been realised accounting for 20 per cent of national GDP per annum. Sustainable Tourism supports employment, provides foreign exchange and builds the economy and it is still expanding the capacities of Samoa."
“We envisage a growing tourism sector that will lead in green growth development that engages our visitors and people to a Samoa that is recognized as a leading Pacific nation for Sustainable Tourism.”
“I am very happy to see such high level support afforded to tourism in Samoa, a country that has progressed significantly in recent yearsthanksin no small part to the benefits brought by the tourism sector”, said Mr. Rifai. “Tourism is a socio-economic mainstay in many islands such as Samoa and I am confident that the political support demonstrated to the sector by the Prime Minister will allow it to be a continuous driver of sustainable development and improvedlivelihoodsin this pristine country”, he added.
Dr. Frenzel said: “WTTC is delighted that the Samoan Government is committed to the sustainable development of our industry. Travel & Tourism is a major contributor to economic growth, to trade, to job creation, to diversification of the economy and to social well-being. It is vital that the travel andtourism industry in Samoa gets the right support and investment at government level to allow the industry to continue to thrive.”
In 2013, Samoa welcomed 116.000 international tourists. International tourism represents 55% of all exports in Samoa (US$ 136 million).
UNWTO Open Letter
Samoa's State Owned enterprises are losing money
The author of an Asian Development Bank report says state-owned enterprises in Samoa and Fiji have been returning zero capital on equity and assets because of the influence of politicians.
The recently released report shows that state-owned enterprises, or SOEs, continue to strain economies, with Samoa and Fiji producing the poorest performance results of the nine countries studied.
Lore Darcy says both countries have a good legal framework around the practises of SOEs, but have struggled to implement the law.
"The influence of politicians on board decisions seems to persist so they're just really having a hard time being effective at implementing their legislation. Fiji's portfolio is much larger. I think that the reasons for its poor performance are similar to Samoa in that you know, you just don't have a political will to extract commercial returns sustainably from the SOEs and to hold Directors and Managers accountable for that."
Samoa opens its first Casino
By Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luamanu
“A casino is now open in Samoa with 100 slot machines and six tables,” said Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi in an exclusive interview with Samoa News last week, where he also pointed out that despite numerous objections, it’s finally open.
He told Samoa News that the idea behind the government's decision to have a casino, is so tourists will spend more time in Samoa and spend their wealth there. He also said it will boost Samoa’s foreign exchange, create new activities for tourism and generate more money for the Samoa government.
He said what was recently opened is one of two venues for the White Sand Casinos, at Aggie Grey’s Lagoon Beach Resort in Mulifanua, with the second one to be opened in Apia with 220 slot machines and 24 tables.
He told Samoa News that some of the income generated from this project will be allocated for education and sports, and that the casino has already created 100 job opportunities for those in Samoa, with more opportunities when the second casino opens.
Samoa News asked about the local laws governing casino operations — which ban Samoan citizens from entering the casinos. He explained that those holding Samoan passports are banned, but those with foreign passports are allowed to take advantage of the casinos, which will be open from 2p.m. to 4a.m. Monday through Saturday. They will be closed on Sundays.
“US passports, New Zealand, Australia, passports aside from Samoan passports are foreign passports — and those in American Samoa who travel all the way to Las Vegas can now come over and try the casinos we have. It’s closer to home and only 45 minutes from Tutuila.”
At the opening night held in August, Samoa Observer reported that Prime Minister Tuilaepa reminded everyone that the road to the casino’s opening was not easy — as there had been many objections about the government’s decision to legalize gambling, including strong opposition from the churches and critics of the government.
But the government persevered because it could foresee the benefits for Samoa, he said. Besides, he said, the decision to issue gambling licenses was not new. He recalled that some 30 years ago, the government had approved a casino license for another hotel company. A Memorandum of Understanding was drafted, but the Casino was never built.
The Prime Minister said that the casinos are made available for people who are interested in them.
“Gambling is a personal choice,” he said. “One can still gamble sensibly.”
It will be at Aggie Greys Resort at Mulifanua, near the international airport, and employ 100 staff.
The Prime Minister, Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, says the first casino will create more job opportunities and attract more tourists into the country.
Tuila'epa has told reporters in his weekly radio programme the idea behind the government's decision for a casino is for tourists to spend more days in Samoa and spend their wealth.
At the same time the prime minister says more money will be pouring into the local economy.
Big welcome home for Miss Samoa
By Vaughn Elder
The newly crowned Miss Samoa was given a lively welcome by Dunedin's Pacific Island community as she arrived back at Dunedin International Airport yesterday.
Third-year University of Otago law and music student Latafale Auva'a (20), originally from Auckland, was crowned at an event in Samoa on Monday night.
Ms Auva'a, who was welcomed with a haka and singing by more than 20 members of Dunedin's Pacific Island community, said the reception at the airport was ''fantastic''.
Her victory came after an ''overwhelming'' two weeks travelling around Samoa as part of the pageant. The final pageant night, originally meant to be held on Saturday was delayed because of the weather.
This made for an emotional victory as her father, who is full Samoan, had to fly back to New Zealand for the final night.
''When I won, I was so emotional, because I knew my dad wasn't able to be there on the night.
''But I got a call from him, from New Zealand, and he was so ecstatic and he was crying,'' she said.
Representing her family was a big focus for her as she took on the role as Miss Samoa and she was sure her Samoan grandmother, who recently died, would be proud of her achievement.
She attributed some of her success to the fact she was an ''educated woman'' and said at the pageant, she one day wanted to be an MP.
''I said yes [I wanted to be involved in politics], because it's a chance for me to impart knowledge and to improve communities and have a voice in what happens.
''I've still got a lot more learning to do, so probably not in the near future, but who knows, maybe in 10 years' time,'' she said.
The role of Miss Samoa was a serious one and after finishing this year's exams, she would be based in Samoa for the next 12 months.
''It's quite a prominent role for Samoa. From what I gather, I am now the face of Samoa, so I will be welcoming all officials that come to Samoa ...as a representative of the community and of women.''
One of her first tasks would be to contest the Miss South Pacific crown, an event being held in Samoa later this year.
The Worldwide Voyage has a powerful aura that is difficult to describe. From children who swim out in the water to touch the hulls and walk on the decks, to adults who stand and stare and weep when they see the red sails pulling into their shores, to the bystander who tilts her head, curiously pondering the significance of these canoes, the voyage means many things to many people. As crew members, we carry the mission closely with us wherever we go. This mission--Mālama Honua, caring for Island Earth—is as grand as the idea of a sail around the world itself.
I’ve always found it fascinating how different people connect to Hõkūle’a in different ways. For me, the canoe has always been a symbol of freedom and hope. It is a vision of what the Earth could be and how life should be: a balance between modern and traditional, between generations and cultures.
This past week, after sailing a windy passage to the UN Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) Conference in Apia, Samoa, I witnessed just how Hōkūle’a and Hikianalia touch lives beyond the traditional audience of Polynesians. Seeing people like Dr. Sylvia Earle continually come aboard in different parts of the Pacific and then joyfully help to deliver the message of Malama Honua is very humbling. Additionally, getting to sail around Apia Harbor with UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, and hearing how he is willing to rally to get global leaders to support the conservation of oceans, was another eye-opening reminder that the mission of the Worldwide Voyage has gone beyond the shores of Hawai’i and even the waters of the Pacific.
However, the most profound experience for me in Samoa came when we went to the residence of the Head of State of Samoa, Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi. During this gathering, he showered us with traditional gifts of tapa cloth and fine mats, and we all shared the gift of music. In essence, it was a graceful-yet-subtle way of letting us go on our way, as all voyagers should. But before he did, he shared with us some his profound thoughts about the Worldwide Voyage that will stay with me well until after this voyage has ended.
In this message, His Highness connected Mālama Honua to the deeper understanding that we were put on this Earth, not to rule it but take care of it. We humans act as if we are the masters of the Earth, but our actual responsibility is to be the stewards. In all we’ve done to change our planet, we’ve lost our connection with the notion of stewardship. Thus, through the mission of WWV and connecting with communities around the world, we are getting back to the sacred conversation between humanity and our Creator as to the very meaning of our existence. This message, coming from the spiritual leader of Samoa, left a profound impact on us in such a way that, regardless of our beliefs or background, each crew member felt the gravitas of what His Highness Tuiatua was saying.
As we continue our journey to new places and distant shores, I am excited to see how the significance of this voyage will evolve and how these canoes will continue to touch lives along the way. Leaving Samoa, we humbly carry the gifts and the lessons we’ve learned here with us. Personally, I will pay closer attention to the voices of the ocean when we sail (so that I can position myself a little closer to the majesty of nature) and to how I can ultimately be a better steward for this Island Earth.
New partnerships seek to protect world's oceans
3 September 2014 – Fishermen in coastal Samoan villages say there are less fish than there used to be and worry that the fish populations will soon disappear altogether, but participants at a United Nations conference on forming partnerships with small island developing states are vowing to prevent that from happening.
Tolo Aeau fishes for swordfish in the Pacific, which is less than a minute's walk from his home in Luatuanu'u, eastern Samoa. He fishes to break up routine of his chicken or beef dinnrs. But the most frequent fishermen on this part of the beach, which survived the 2009 tsunami, are people from outside the village who often sell the catch.
“Big difference because the last couple of years we found fish before the reef. Now if you don't go far, you won't find any,” Mr. Aeau told the UN News Centre. “It's a big worry. What will happen in the next 10 years.”
The waters off the Pacific Islands region cover around 40 million square kilometers, the equivalent of about one-third of the world's surface area. The waters have some of the largest stocks of tuna, as well as sharks, billfish, marine mammals and turtles.
To illustrate just how much these natural resources are worth, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that of the 2.4 million tonnes of tuna caught in the Western Pacific Ocean, 1.4 million have been taken from this region at a value of $2.8 billion.
“SIDS [Small Island Developing States] are basically environment based economies, they depend heavily on fisheries and tourism. So they depend on their environment assets and that is where the opportunities lie for them,” explained Kaven Zahedi, Regional Director and Representative for Asia and the Pacific at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
This is the basis of so-called 'green-blue economy.' Green economy is an economy where the natural assets are considered as part of the decision making process. Blue economy is one where most of those assets happen to be marine based assets.
“In the context of SIDS, we are really talking about the same thing,” Mr. Zahedi said, speaking on Wednesday from the sidelines of the Third International Small Island Developing States Conference in Samoa.
The Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) – which involves UNEP, the UN International Labour Organization (ILO), UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) – is supporting 30 countries over the next six years to build national green economy strategies.
“Unless you have commitment from the highest levels in the country, it's simply not going to happen,” Mr. Zahedi said.
PAGE, which was launched last year, established a partnership at the conference to, among other things, show Governments what type of technology can be used or what models can from other regions could be replicated here. The partnership is among the more than 300 others which are being announced before the conference wraps-up later today.
“I think more than anything, we help to point out the possibilities that exist. Because in a way we're talking about a different mindset, a different economy, and we need to instill the confidence in countries that it is possible, that decision is theirs for the taking,” he noted.
Some of the environmental challenges islanders face are localized, such as habitat destruction or waste management, but others are more global, like rising sea levels and frequency of weather events linked to climate change.
“When I look at the issues at stake, in terms of food security, shoreline protection, economy, livelihoods, cultural identity, I think there's so much value there, so why are we not able to harness 1 per cent of the value,” oceanographer Jan Newton said while on break from the multi-stakeholder partnership dialogue on 'Oceans, Seas and Biodiversity.' The partnership dialogue is one of six sessions with representatives of government, the private sector and civil society, organized as part of the official conference.
Ms. Newton is a member of the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON) which announced its own partnership at the conference, with a series of institutions, including the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) International Ocean Carbon Coordination Project.
One of the goals of the partnership is to acquire and exchange biogeochemical data that can be used in modeling ocean acidity and its impact.
Ocean acidification and climate change are closely linked, both caused by increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. One-third of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere went into the oceans, raising the acidity of the waters by 30 per cent and changing the oceans chemistry.
For example, ocean acidification is responsible for corals turning white, and why oysters have increasing problems forming a hard shell.
The data from this new partnership has very practical applications for local communities and fisherman. Shellfish grower, Mark Whiker, who works with Ms. Newton likened such data to putting headlights on a car, “you can see where you're going.
Ms. Newton also took part in an international pre-conference workshop on ocean acidification, which was held aboard the Pacific Jewel in the Apia harbor on 28 and 29 August, and whose report was shared at the partnership dialogue.
The workshop, organized by the Governments of New Zealand and the United States, was meant to create networks ocean acidification networks for the Caribbean, Pacific Islands and the Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, and South China Sea, among people who would have had no ways of meeting to meet and plan.
The topics discussed in Samoa will resurface later this month at the Secretary-General Climate Summit at the UN Headquarters on 23 September.
In Luatuanu'u, Mr. Aueu is optimistic all this attention will translate into real action, “High tide, earthquakes. I hope they will stop these things from happening. I hope they will make lives better for us.”
Urging sustainable action, UN officials link small islands to global issues at conference opening
UN News Centre August 2014 –
Calling small island developing nations a magnifying glass for vulnerabilities around the world, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday urged the international community to support sustainable development in these countries through multi-stakeholder partnerships.
“By addressing the issues facing SIDS we are developing the tools we need to promote sustainable development across the entire world,” Mr. Ban said at the opening session of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States in the Samoan capital, Apia.
The conference is being held in the Pacific to demonstrate first-hand the challenges and opportunities facing countries in the “small island developing states” group. These include high costs for energy and transportation, susceptibility to natural disasters, and vulnerability to external shocks. The island nations are also prime destinations for tourism, naturally endowed with 'green energy' resources like sun and wind, and driving so-called 'blue growth' economy linked to marine and maritime sectors.
“We must assess progress and identify new challenges as well as opportunities,” he told more than 3,000 representatives of government and civil society, and business leaders.
The overall goal, particularly since the four-day conference's final document has already been hammered out, is to form genuine and durable partnerships among the various participants, with the aim of strengthening island initiatives that can help address global issues.
“Lasting progress can ultimately only be achieved within a propitious international environment that supports national efforts,” John Ashe, President of the General Assembly said in his opening remarks.
At the time of the opening, at least 287 partnerships were already registered on the official website.
“When one looks at partnerships in terms of the numbers, I would say this conference is a huge success,” Mr. Ashe said in an interview after the opening session. “Based on what we've seen so far, there is considerable interest in partnerships with SIDS.”
A common theme throughout the pre-conference events and today's opening is climate change, and efforts to stem its impact.
In his opening address, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi urged organizers to take concrete steps to stem rising sea levels. He noted that critical problems do not recognise borders and hold no respect for sovereignty.
“The big problems of our small islands will sooner rather than later impact every country irrespective of level of development of prosperity,” said the Prime Minister.
Turning to participants of the conference, he urged them to act: “There are always great opportunities to deliver moralistic statements and declarations of intent. But grandstanding won't achieve our cause.
This week's conference comes ahead of Mr. Ban's Climate Summit which will be held on 23 September at UN Headquarters in New York. The summit is meant to catalyze action and build momentum for a climate agreement to be discussed next year in Paris.
“SIDS will have an important role to play,” Mr. Ban said. “You can tell the largest emitters what action you expect from them. And you can show how you are working to build resilience and create the green economies of the future.”
“You can set an example for the world,” he added, noting that this year is also the International Year of Small Island Developing States.
In addition to the plenary session, six so-called 'partnership dialogues' have been organized on the themes of sustainable economic development; climate change and disaster risk management; social development in SIDS, health and non-communicable diseases, youth and women; sustainable energy; oceans, seas and biodiversity; water and sanitation, food security and waste management.
The topics are related to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which the international community is working to reach by next year's deadline, as well as the sustainable development goals that will follow post-2015.
According to the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, small islands had made less progress on the MDGs than other countries, with some even regressing.
One in four Pacific islanders live below the poverty line, according to a UN Development Programme's (UNDP) 'State of Human Development in the Pacific' released Saturday.
Promotion of adequate health services and basic education, as well as prioritizing social protections in national budgets are some of its recommendations.
iTunes in Samoa to team up with UN to showcase music from small island nations
25 August 2014 – Ahead of a major United Nations conference in Samoa on small island developing countries, iTunes has teamed up with the UN to create a dedicated page on the popular site – launched today – featuring music from artists born and raised in some of the world’s smallest islands.
The "Island Voices" initiative (www.iTunes.com/islandvoices) showcases the eclectic range of works of 57 musicians from the world’s small island nations and features their songs, which can be easily accessed and purchased from the online iTunes Store.
Drawing attention to the Third United Nations Conference on the Small Island Developing States , scheduled to take place from 1 to 5 September in the Samoan capital, Apia, the iTunes partnership also coincides with the 2014 International Year of Small Island Developing States , which has been designated by the UN to celebrate the remarkable diversity, culture and heritage of small islands throughout the world.
The dedicated page on iTunes aims to promote the diversity of music from the islands and its contribution to international music, and will feature the best works from the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean islands, celebrate many of gifted singers and songwriters and promote music across multiple genres, from reggae to calypso, and from hip-hop to jazz and dance.
Among the well-known icons included on the iTunes page are Bob Marley (Jamaica), Rihanna (Barbados), Cèsaria Evoria (Cape Verde) and Ibrahim Ferrer (Cuba).
‘Island Voices’ will also spotlight lesser known musicians, such as Vanessa Quai from the Republic of Vanuatu, Dilli Allstars from Timor-Leste, Rosalia from Fiji and Imany Mladja, from Comoros.
In a video-message on the iTunes page, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasizes that artists from the small island developing States are among the “giants in musical history.”
“Every day, island voices are heard all across the planet through music. They represent the spirit and aspiration of the people” said Mr. Ban. “Music helps connect these beautiful islands to the wilder world, influencing global popular culture” he added.
The partnership was initiated by the UN Office for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), which worked with Permanent Missions of small island States and iTunes’ specialist music curators to create a list of songs and artists that reflect the variety and the quality of these 57 islands and their culture.
“One of the chief challenges that all islands face is remoteness, and as such, connectivity to the wider world is a key challenge. iTunes is arguably the largest megaphone in the world, and what better opportunity to showcase the extraordinary and vibrant musical heritage from the small islands” said Ricardo Dunn, Advocacy and Outreach Officer for UN-OHRLLS.
Two days before the official conference on the Small Island Developing States next week, UN-OHRLLS has organized a Private Sector Partnership Forum in Samoa, and hopes that this will be the first of many innovative initiatives to be announced that will benefit small island nations.
Samoa’s leading recycler says there is money to be made in car tyres and plastic bottles if the country can recycle them on-island.
SAMOA --- Pacific Recycles manager Silafau Ioane Sio says that tyres and plastic bottles have a low value on the recycling market so processing them on-island is the key to managing this growing waste problem in Samoa.
“There are more cars on the roads and more plastic bottles than ever before but we don’t have the machines to process them here and to export them is expensive when you consider the small return. We need to diversify.”
Silafau says he has been working with an Australian company to look at the viability of recycling in Samoa but the cost of the machines is too expensive without and investor or donor assistance.
“I’ve seen recycling companies in Japan make oil from plastic, and He says he would also like to see Container Deposit Legislation (CDL) brought into Samoa.
This legislation would see importers paying a levy for each container imported. This cost would be passed onto the consumer who will receive a portion of that levy as a refund on the return of the container. The remaining part of the levy is often used to fund the cost of processing returned containers.
Already Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment have attended trainings on implementing this type of legislation run by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
SPREP estimates that in the Pacific municipal solid waste is composed of 60 per cent organic, 35 per cent potentially recyclable - equalling about 760,000 tonnes per year – and five per cent categorized as other.
Palau has had its legislation since 2011. One of the unique features of that legislation in Palau is the high deposit per container (US10c), which allows the government to refund, operate and save extra money at the "Recycling Fund" to cover the expenses of waste management activities.
Since bringing container deposit legislation Palau, Yap, Federated States of Micronesia and Kiribati have recycled more than 37.2 million containers. It has also seen positive spin-offs in the way of business development, job creation, less waste to landfill and less litter.
Pacific Recycles handles about 25 per cent of total recyclable waste in Samoa, according to Silafau.
The private company has cages for bottle and can collection at sites around central Upolu including a number of schools. It also regularly receives recyclables from people who sort through Tafaigata Landfill.
“Some schools such as Samoa Primary, Robert Louis Stevenson and Fa’atuatua are very good with their segregation. I think it is part of their environmental education.”
When asked if he was open to the idea of village collection programmes for cash, he said he was happy to take enquiries from rural villages. “I guess for them it is a little bit of income and it also deals with a litter problem.”
Pacific Recycles started seven years ago with a staff of four and now has a staff of 23 and an office in Savaii as well. The recycler also handles scrap metal, aluminum cans and plastic bottles from Tokelau.