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Sharks have roamed the world's ocean for more than 400 million years, but today more than 150 different species of shark are threatened or near threatened with extinction. Many of these vulnerable animals live in the waters surrounding American Samoa, including oceanic whitetips, hammerheads, whale sharks, and several types of reef sharks. Although American Samoa has taken the proactive step to ban finning, the act of dumping sharks after their fins are removed, it is the only U.S. territory in the Pacific that has not yet banned the possession and trade of sharks and shark parts, including fins, which are in high demand in Asia as an ingredient for soup.
Sharks play an important role in Samoan culture, as seen in proverbs, legends, and traditional fishing practices. They help to maintain a healthy ocean, which the people of Samoa rely on as a source of food. As apex predators, sharks keep the marine ecosystem balanced.
The Coalition of Reef Lovers has partnered with American Samoa's Coral Reef Advisory Group to support the efforts of the American Samoan government to pass permanent protections for sharks. By safeguarding these animals, we can protect our valuable marine resources.
Dear Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources,
As a resident of American Samoa I am requesting that you accept the proposed Rare Marine Species Protections and changes to ASAC Title 24.09 et seq. without any weakening amendments.
For thousands of years, the shark has been an important part of Samoan culture, as seen in our proverbs, legends, and traditional fishing practices. They help maintain a healthy ocean, which we rely on as a source of food. As top predators in the food web, sharks help keep marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, balanced.
Globally, shark populations are dropping. Because sharks grow slowly, mature late in life, and have few pups, they need time to rebuild their populations. In American Samoa, our shark populations are a fraction of what they used to be, but like many other island nations around the Pacific, we can take action to protect our sharks before it is too late.
As an island community, a healthy and balanced ocean is vital for our future. Keeping our sharks safe will help ensure a healthier future for American Samoa and protect our valuable marine resources. I urge you to accept the proposed regulations for our culture and future generations.