28 April 2015

MEDIA RELEASE

 “Samoa Fisheries and Village Fisheries Management Committee members join forces in “Crown of Thorns Starfish (alamea) Clean-up Campaigns in the lagoons and reefs of Upolu and Savaii

With funding assistance from the German Government, the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries join forces with members of the Villages to implement a crown of thorns, (commonly known as the alamea) clean up campaign.

Crown of thorns (alamea) collected from coral reefs

The crown of thorns (COTs) clean-up was carried out as one of the major components of the SPC/GIZ “Coping with Climate Change in the Pacific Island Region” (CCCPIR) Project. The SPC/GIZ CCCPIR project supports the Pacific Island Countries to increase their resilience and adaptive capacity against the impacts of climate change. The program addresses and focuses on five important development sectors in the Pacific Island region namely: land use (agriculture, forestry and land use planning), fisheries, education, energy and tourism.

The “alamea” is a large nocturnal sea star fish known, as a carnivorous predator that preys upon reef corals.   Scientific researches and studies revealed that an individual alamea can consume up to 6 square metres of living coral reef per year.

This sea star fish physically digests the microscopic animals that make food for the coral, which in turn bleaches the coral and without the microscopic animals; the will turn white within a week and die.  The alamea has also, reportedly, been responsible for massive coral bleaching in popular coral reef systems such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

Crown of Thorns (alamea) on coral

Crown of Thorns (alamea) on coral

The campaign started at  Falelatai District from March  23 – 27, covering 7 villages of Sama’ilaualo, Falevai, Matanofo, Matautu, Siufaga, Pata and Samatau.  From  April 7 – 14 in the district of Falealili in 11 villages of Matatufu, Sapo’e, Salani, Salesatele, Sapunaoa, Satalo, Malaemalu, Tafatafa, Matavai, Matautu and Saleilua.

The campaign then moved to the big island of Savaii on April 19-24, in the Asau district covering the villages of Asau, Auala, Vaisala, Fagasa, Sataua and Papa. The campaign will round up at Faga covering all subvillages of Siufaga, Malae, Sapini, Luua, Salimu, from 4-8 May.

So far, the campaign has removed over 5000 animals (alamea) – juveniles, sub-adults and adults – indicating a COT outbreak in the lagoons and reefs of Samoa.  Removal of alamea from the reefs ensures protection and minimizing natural stressors impacting the marine environment and important habitats.

The campaign also strengthened the partnership with villages participating in the Community-based Fisheries Management program (CBFMP).  The CBFMP is managing fisheries activities and the protected marine environment by village communities with the Fisheries Division and partners providing technical, legal and supporting services to improve fisheries management through understanding, responsibilities and ownership.   Members of the Village Fisheries Management Committees from all villages and districts were also on site to spearhead the campaign in their respective villages.

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