Local scientists benefit from international project

By Mathias Hukert ,

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Maria Sapatu of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries explains her work to local students.

Maria Sapatu of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries explains her work to local students.

Local officials who took part in an international research project with scientists from the United States of America and American Samoa are thrilled to have been granted the opportunity.

Among them was Maria Satoa, from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E). 

 “We managed to confirm two species of seagrass growing around Manono and there might also be the possibility of a new species, but this still has to be analysed,” she said yesterday.

The seagrass around the island makes up important habitats for the submarine species around the area, including for instance sea turtles. 

Satoa also spoke about the actual threat for these breeds of seagrass being removed by locals. 

“We came across certain residents of the area with the intention to remove seagrass to obtain especially sandy beaches, but these people must be told that this leads to a deconstruction of the environment.”

The scientist was part of an international team of marine researchers including participants from Samoa, American Samoa and the United States, that surveyed oceanic data around the Samoan Archipelago for ten days.

Together with her colleague Maria Sapatu, a senior fisheries officer of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Satoa had the chance to take part in the project spearheaded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (N.O.A.A). 

Now, a few days after the research, Sapatu was given the opportunity to tell more about her scientific achievements to interested groups of students from different schools around the area.

“It was a worthwhile collaboration for both sides,” Sapatu summarized the work with N.O.A.A. Her part in the project included the use of fish aggregation devices (F.A.Ds). 

“These so called F.A.Ds, of which the team managed to install seven in number around Samoa, help the scientists to attract certain species of fish to collect data including for example the determination of a species’ age.

“The field work was intensive, we had operation at daytime, came back for dinner and then had operation at nighttime,” she told Samoa Observer. The cooperation together with N.O.A.A led to benefits for Sapatu, as she explained: “We learnt a lot about how to sample fish and fishing in general and I am sure me and my junior staff will take profits from this exciting experience.”

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