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Social-ecological vulnerability assessment of reef fisheries and communities to promote climate resiliency in American Samoa


Project Manager:
Arielle Levine
Project Years:
Project Summary:
To better understand and mitigate the impacts of climate change in American Samoa, it is important to identify the factors that make specific places, people, and ecosystems most vulnerable to climate impacts.Project Objectives: 1. Conduct a climate-change vulnerability assessment for fishing communities in American Samoa 2. Present assessment results to local managers and communities for integration into existing village management plans and planning processes This project addresses CRCP Climate Objective 2.4 to promote the conservation of coral reef ecosystems through identification of areas that are potentially resilient to climate change and vulnerable areas where actions are likely to increase resilience. It responds to American Samoa’s priority to conduct socio-economic climate change vulnerability studies, particularly as it relates to adaptive capacity of coral reef fisheries, Additionally, the project addresses Objectives 3.2 and 3.3 of American Samoa’s Coral Reef Management Priorities, enabling the establishment of adaptive management strategies tailored for American Samoa to maximize resilience of coral reefs, and fostering adaptation and resilience of human communities and economic systems to respond to climate change impacts, This project would support the improvement of MPA and watershed management in Vatia and Faga’alu, which currently lack any planning for resilience to climate change, as called for in the MPA checklist.To better understand the impacts of future climate scenarios, we will integrate social and biophysical data on coastal communities and ecosystems to create a local index that quantifies three elements of climate change vulnerability: exposure, sensitivity, and recovery potential/adaptive capacity. Using a approach specific to American Samoa, we will integrate local climate predictions, predictions of climate impacts to fish and coral species, and socioeconomic factors that affect Samoan communities’ ability to respond and adapt to climate impacts. We will draw from biological monitoring data on fish and coral status collected by the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) and the American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR), nutrient data collected by San Diego State University (SDSU), socioeconomic data collected through the Community-based fisheries management program (CFMP) and CRCP’s Social Science program, and fish catch data collected from creel surveys. Data gaps will be supplemented with additional data collection during the project period; local staff will be trained and involved in collecting socioeconomic information, building local capacity to expand these types of assessments in additional locations in the future. The vulnerability assessments will provide local managers with information critical to understanding the socio-ecological impacts of climate change on coral reef-dependent species and communities to inform management decision-making. Project outcomes will be presented and disseminated to local agencies, resource managers, and communities to assist them in evaluating and understanding the vulnerability of their reefs and dependent communities, We will hold village meetings and conduct outreach specifically in Vatia and Faga’alu, using the PLA approach to incorporate climate resiliency into existing management plans and MPA establishment, The vulnerability assessment information will assist these communities in understanding specific impacts of climate change on coral reef-dependent species and their community, and identity adaptive and management measures for resiliency
Expected Outcome:
Expected achievement: Vulnerability assessments for at least two priority coral reef management areas (Faga’alu and Vatia) in Tutuila, American Samoa. This information can be used to facilitate adaptation to climate impacts by identifying how marine resources, fisheries and food security may be affected, as well as specific ways that these village communities may be vulnerable or resilient to climate impacts, If sufficient data is available, additional assessments will be conducted in up to 4 additional village MPA sites considered priority areas by local managers: Fagamalo and Fagasa (both no-take MPAs within DMWR’s CFMP), and/or Tau and Ofu, in the Manu’a islands (including Sanctuary and National Park Service (NPS) managed sites), The information from the vulnerability assessments will be made available to local village planning committees, as well as federal and territorial management agencies to integrate into their existing management plans and inform ongoing management planning processes, The information from the assessments will be presented during village outreach and planning meetings, which are held regularly with the lead government resource agency partners through the different management programs, This will provide the opportunity to obtain village feedback and enhance villagers’ understanding of anticipated climate change impacts, empowering them to identify ways to increase their resiliency and improve planning, The information from the assessment will help incorporate climate vulnerability and resilience into planned management plan revisions for the priority sites of Vatia and Faga’alu, The PLA approach will assist target villages in developing integrated management plans that include climate resiliency and adaptation measures to improve management and strengthen community resiliency, Additionally, staff from local agencies will assist in the collection of additional socio-economic data, and contribute local ecological monitoring data, helping to build local capacity to expand these types of assessments to additional locations to support future management planning efforts in additional locations.
Project Locations:
  • American Samoa
Jursdiction Priority Sites:
  • Faga’alu
  • Vatia
Project Category:
Climate Change
Project Type:
Project Status:
Funding Ended
Associated Products:

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