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Territory Facts

Miles of Coast: 126

Coastal Population (2000): 55,519

Lead Coastal Management Agency: American Samoa Department of Commerce

Approval Date: 1980

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Ocean and Coastal Management in American Samoa

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Most Samoans live in villages along the narrow coastal plains, gaining economic revenue by fishing primarily tuna for export and growing crops on the plains and hillsides.  About half of the island chain remains undeveloped and is covered with tropical rain forests and wildlife.

American Samoa's Coastal Program

The American Samoa Coastal Program was approved by NOAA in 1980. The Lead Agency is the American Samoa Department of Commerce. American Samoa is the sole U.S. territory south of the equator and consists of seven islands, totaling roughly 77 square miles, with a coastline of 126 miles. The entire territory is included in its coastal zone boundary.

The Coastal Program has developed a unique approach that incorporates both western and traditional systems of management. The Territory and the coastal program face many issues. These include rapid population growth, drastic loss of wetland resources, water contamination, and loss of valuable ecosystems. To address the challenges, the program emphasizes land-use permitting, community-based management of wetlands, non-point source pollution, and building public awareness around coastal issues. Program implementation relies heavily on inter-agency partnerships.

American Samoa's Coral Program

American Samoa is also a member of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force. As part of the Task Force, the American Samoa Department of Commerce serves as the Territory’s Coral Reef point-of-contact. The Department is one of many American Samoan agencies and academic institutions concerned with coral reef issues that comprise the American Samoa Coral Reef Advisory Group (CRAG). The CRAG coordinates coral reef management throughout the territory and has led a participatory process to develop local action strategies to address four priority threats to coral reefs: over-fishing, land-based sources of pollution, global climate change, and population pressures. The CRAG is currently working to implement these strategies.


Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary — Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary comprises a fringing coral reef ecosystem nestled within an eroded volcanic crater on the island of Tutuila, American Samoa.

Marine Protected Areas — Search for marine protected areas in American Samoa.

American Samoa Coastal Program Evaluation (2006) — The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management conducts periodic performance reviews of federally approved state coastal management programs.

American Samoa Coastal Zone Enhancement Program Assessment and Strategy (2011-2016) — Every five years, the Coastal Zone Management Act encourages states and territories to conduct self-evaluations of their coastal management programs to assess significant changes in the state’s coastal resources and management practices, identify critical needs, and prioritize areas for enhancement under the Coastal Zone Enhancement Program.

American Samoa's Coral Reef Local Action Strategies — The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force identified the need for more focused action at the local level to reduce key threats to coral reefs and called for each of the states and territories with significant coral reef resources to develop local action strategies.

American Samoa Nonpoint Program Conditional and Full Approval Documents — The Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program encourages better coordination between state coastal zone managers and water quality experts to reduce polluted runoff in the coastal zone. The territory received full approval in 2003.

Contact Information for American Samoa’s Program

Department of Commerce
Government of American Samoa
2nd Floor Executive Office Building, Utulei
Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799
(684) 633-5155