The Southwest Pacific is a biologically diverse region lying directly south of Micronesia. Within this region, the CRCP supports coral reef conservation efforts that build on synergies with the national CRCP priorities and promote basin-wide collaboration. A priority focus is independent Samoa, which shares cultural, geographical and biological links to American Samoa, located just 73 miles away. The leaders of Samoa and American Samoa have initiated the Two Samoas Initiative that brings together local and regional environmental agencies and organizations to promote efficient management for addressing shared marine and terrestrial environmental concerns. The Initiative also aims to increase the cooperation between the two neighboring islands and is among the regional projects that the CRCP can support as a primary vehicle for coral reef conservation within the wider region.
NOAA’s biogeography branch completed a Biogeographic Assessment of the Samoan Archipelago (http://ccma.nos.noaa.gov/ecosystems/coralreef/samoan_archipelago/), an important step toward improving coral reef management in Samoa and the Southwest Pacific Region. In partnership with the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries’ International MPA Capacity Building Program, CRCP International initiated a needs and capacity assessment of coral reef conservation and management in independent Samoa, expected to be completed in 2012, which will inform capacity building efforts for the next few years.
To develop a strategic policy framework for the Two Samoas Initiative, CRCP International established an inaugural cooperative agreement with the Government of Samoa. Strengthening of local communities' participation in the management and monitoring of their marine resources and enforcement of their bylaws and regulations is expected as a result of learning exchanges and monitoring efforts conducted by the Samoan government.