Audubon's Shearwater get enhanced protection in American Samoa within a greatly expanded marine sanctuary

The USA's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has finalized a huge expansion of the Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary (in existence since 1986) in American Samoa in October this year, from 0.65 km² to 33 024 km², renaming it the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa.

"The National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa is one of 14 federally designated underwater areas protected by NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.  Of all the areas in the National Marine Sanctuary System, the American Samoa sanctuary is the most remote, is the only true tropical reef, and is thought to support the greatest diversity of marine life."

American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the USA located in the southern Pacific Ocean, south-east of Samoa.  Tutuila is its largest and most populous island.  The most important commercial fishery in American Samoa is the pelagic longline fleet, which targets mostly Albacore Thunnus alalunga for canning.  Interactions with seabirds have been rarely reported in this fishery (click here).

The sanctuary includes the seabird-breeding locality of uninhabited Rose Atoll which was designated a marine national monument in January 2009 by Presidential decree and incorporates the Rose Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.  Rose Atoll is the most important seabird colony in the region, supporting c. 97% of the seabird population of American Samoa. The two islands in the atoll provide important breeding and roosting habitat for 12 species of seabirds.

Click on the following two links to learm more about the establishment of the new marine sanctuary.

Audubon's Shearwater Puffinus lherminieri is reported to breed within American Samoa on the islands of Ta'u (falling within the sanctuary but where it is threatened by rats) and Tutuila, but does not, at least as yet, breed on Rose Atoll - from where Pacific Rats Rattus exulans were eradicated by the US Fish & Wildlife Service in 1993.  Wedge-tailed P. pacificus and Christmas P. nativitatus Shearwaters may also breed within American Samoa and are known to forage within its waters.  At least two species of gadfly petrels Pterodroma spp. breed within the territory.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 18 December 2012

The Agreement on the
Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

ACAP is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.

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