Samoa National Marine Sanctuary Expanded to over 13,000 square miles

National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa:

Expansion Now Official Reef Swains 2010 More than 150 species of coral are found in the newly expanded National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa

A final rule that expands the boundaries of NOAA’s Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary and changes the name of the sanctuary is now in effect. Originally published in July, the final rule directs NOAA to provide enhanced protections and management for most of Rose Atoll Marine National Monument under the authority of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.

Additionally, NOAA will extend sanctuary protection to four additional marine areas in American Samoa: Fagalua/Fogama’a (also known as Larsen Bay) and waters around Swains Island, Aunu`u Island and Ta’u Island, home to some of the oldest and largest known corals in the world. Together with the existing Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary, these protected areas will now be known collectively as the “National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa.”

The sanctuary will encompass 13,523 square miles of protected waters – a significant increase from the 0.25 square miles of Fagatele Bay – taking it from the nation’s smallest marine sanctuary to the largest. This sanctuary expansion represents a major milestone for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries in its 40th anniversary year. The inclusion of Rose Atoll Marine National Monument and the other new areas is a powerful demonstration of our nation’s commitment to the Pacific and to the cultural heritage of American Samoa.

Through this expansion, NOAA will be able to provide greater protection to ecosystems and cultural resources in the region, ensuring that the waters of American Samoa remain a vital part of the nation’s legacy for future generations.