Cousteau adds voice to American Samoa protest

The well known ocean explorer and film producer, Jean-Michel Cousteau, has added his voice to widespread protest about US boats fishing in American Samoa.

Large fishing vessels from the United States may soon be allowed to fish temporarily in the territory's protected waters which are reserved for local 'alia' or small fishing boats.

The American Samoa Governor wants the US Government to dismiss a call for longliners to be allowed to fish in the territory's Large Vessel Protected Area.

Lolo Moliga has asked the US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker to reject the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council's resolution to allow longliners access.

If the council's resolution is approved it would temporarily allow vessels of 15 metres or longer to fish within 20 kilometres of the territory's shores.

At the moment the area up to 80 kilometres offshore is reserved for alia fishing.

However Mr Cousteau has written to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration saying the area must be kept free of the longliners.

He says he has filmed the underwater coral reef ecosystems several times and he describes the Large Vessel Protected Area as a unique safe haven which allows pelagic fish stocks to recover and oceans health to be maintained.

Mr Cousteau says when the marine environment is strong and healthy, local fisheries, tourism, and businesses thrive.