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Environmental Monitoring and Governance

26 June 2024, Apia Samoa - A training on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for the Fisheries Division of Samoa’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) marks the beginning of a new era in leveraging the power of geospatial data analysis, mapping, and visualisation tools to assist community fisheries management in Samoa.

The five-day training titled "Enhancing Fisheries Management in Samoa through GIS" was held from June 10th - 14th, 2024, and was conducted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), through a partnership between the SPREP’s Environmental Monitoring and Governance (EMG) and Islands and Oceans Ecosystems (IOE) programmes. The training aimed to build vital GIS capacity to improve data collection, analysis, and decision-making for sustainably managing Samoa’s precious fisheries resources.

"GIS tools have emerged as a vital component in our toolbox. Today marks the beginning of our journey exploring spatial data analysis, mapping, and visualisation,” said Mr Roseti Imo, Assistant CEO of MAF’s Fisheries Division. “It is more than just technology; it is a catalyst for transforming how we understand and interact with the world around us. GIS carries a profound responsibility to leverage information for the betterment of our fishing community”.

The content of the training focused on GIS applications, including data collection and management, spatial analysis, mapping techniques, and interpreting spatial data for fisheries management. 

The Samoa Fisheries Division implements a nationally and regionally recognised Community Fisheries Management Programme which assists coastal villages in sustainably managing their coastal/inshore fisheries through formulating and implementing village fisheries plans, establishing and managing reserves, and enforcing bylaws. Currently, more than 120 coastal villages are actively participating, with many more expressing interest in joining. 

The training played an essential role in building the capacity of fisheries staff and local communities to sustainably manage their adjacent waters using GIS mapping.

SPREP’s Director for Environmental Monitoring and Governance, Mr Jope Davetanivalu, shared that one of the outcomes of the 4th Small Island Developing States (SIDS4) meeting held recently in Antigua and Barbuda (SIDS4) was for all SIDS member countries to strengthen their data collection mechanisms for government sectors and ministries. Through the GIS training, the tool will be useful to provide data and allow better decision-making for the Fisheries Division and the ministry.

Mr. Davetanivalu added that a key area of SPREP’s work includes the provision of technical support and capacity building to its member countries to fulfill their commitments to international environmental conventions and to strengthen environmental management programmes in countries using emerging technology and tools such as GIS.

Participants also had the opportunity to explore SPREP's online portals, including the Pacific Islands Protected Area Portal (PIPAP), and familiarise themselves with the available spatial datasets in the region and how to access these data for GIS mapping. 

With the primary focus of the training on spatial data and its management, participants were introduced to various data collection methods at national, regional, and global scales. There was also a fieldwork component that allowed participants to practically apply new GIS skills by collecting and analysing data from local fishing grounds, using GPS devices, and bridging theory with real-world applications. 

Ms Su'a Ulusapeti Tiitii, Acting ACEO MAF, expressed her appreciation for the training. “The knowledge and techniques we have acquired from the training are not just tools in our professional arsenal but instruments of change in safeguarding our marine ecosystems,” she said. “As we return to our respective roles, I encourage you to apply what you have learned with creativity, precision, and a deep sense of responsibility."

The training was made possible through the support of the Samoa Fisheries Division (MAF) and the World Bank's SAFPROM project.

For more information on the World Bank's SAFPROM project, contact Mr Autalavou Taua ([email protected]), the SPREP BIOPAMA project, Mrs. Kasaqa Tora: ([email protected])[email protected], and the ACP/MEA3 project please contact Mrs Anastacia Amoa-Stowers ([email protected]).