II. FISHERY RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT IN SAMOA
C. Policies and institutional arrangements
3. Potential ways these arrangements conflict and assist each otherThe Seventh Development Plan (DP7), National Environmental Management Strategy (NEMS), and State of Environment (SOE) identify major institutional problems such as:
The "externally-driven" approach to environmental policy is a powerful, and perhaps necessary, method of introducing new ideas and policies to the traditional Samoan society. As the world unites on resolving environmental problems, and more agencies provide financial and expert assistance, the entire structure of government has acknowledged sustainable development as a desirable goal.
This process has not, however, been very successful at actually resolving environmental problems. There are several basic reasons for this, but the fundamental problem is that supplying information and establishing policies do not initiate behavioural changes in the village setting.
Loans for fishing boats may result in fishermen overfishing stocks or using destructive fishing techniques to meet payments.
Aid-funded coastal roads, landfills and sea walls have damaged or destroyed coastal wetlands which are important nursery sites for nearshore marine creatures.
Agricultural aid has supported the widespread use of pesticides and herbicides and, in some areas, created agro-deforestation and erosion - all of which endanger the inshore fishery resources.
In Polynesian society, the giver is higher than the receiver is unless the gift is to a superior with the objective of asking for a favour. Information and instructions generally flow from the top down. Therefore, when an aid project is offered, the donor is perceived to be higher in the chain of command. The aid is generally accepted even if the programme is not endorsed. If the project is really inappropriate, government may accept it anyway if it comes from a very important donor agency or is accompanied by large sums of aid money. If the donor is not considered too important, the project may be delayed, sometimes indefinitely. Priorities are thus established by whoever is providing the funds and there is often little or no meaningful discussion or feedback from Samoan officials to the donor organisation.
In the case of environmental issues, aid and training may be accepted without the government agreeing to any of the principles. A prime example is the state of the environment resource accounting database (and computer) provided to the Statistics Division by SPREP/UNEP to encourage improvement of resource accounts. While the government, and the Statistics Office, was happy to have the computer, the database remains devoid of data. The various government agencies which have the data have no practical motivation to gather it together and submit it to the Statistics Office. The Statistics Office, while it has much of the required information at its disposal, also has no formal mandate or funding to put the data into the database even when this is only a matter of a few minutes work. (This same situation was noted in Kiribati and the Solomon Islands).
Under the present legal system, the same government body is given the mandate to use a resource and to protect and conserve it. This can generate an internal conflict of interest between government resource management and economic development objectives. The Fisheries Division was set up as a means of developing fisheries (extracting the resource) and there have been few laws or regulations aimed at conserving the fisheries. Fisheries Regulations were not passed until 1996 and are still not enforced (undersized and berried lobsters and undersized crabs were observed being openly displayed and sold at the Saturday fish market in Apia on 1 Feb. 97).
Mangrove forests are a grey area in terms of jurisdiction - they involve fisheries, forestry, public works, and the Ministry of Lands, Survey, and Environment. The latter has regularly allowed mangrove areas to be filled for housing or used as dumps. They also mine the reef flats for fill.
Accepting aid for road development is in the best interests of public
works, even when the roads might create environmental problems. Since there
are no legal requirements for EIAs in Samoa, and since road construction
budgets are substantial, the projects are likely to progress even if the
Environment Division does not approve.