10 Dec 2004

American Samoa marine biologist says saving the territory's reefs is a big job

11:25 am on 10 December 2004

A marine biologist in American Samoa says it'll be years before the territory can fully protect even a small number of its coral reefs.

The territory's governor, Togiola Tulafono, says his administration is committed to preserving at least 20 per cent f the territory's coral reefs and strengthening marine protected areas.

The American federal government is funding a new $350,000 US dollar a year initiative, with a goal to protect a fifth of the territory's coral reefs.

Douglas Fenner, chief biologist at the territory's Department for Marine and Wildlife Resources, says there are no fully protected areas in American Samoa and it'll take years to achieve the target.

"We certainly want to do as much as we can but actually at this point in time we have almost zero percent that is completely no take. And it will take us several years and hard work to achieve 20 per cent let alone a higher goal."

Mr Fenner says establishing no take zones will involve banning commercial and recreational fishing in certain areas.