Marine Reserve

Savaia Marine Reserve

The Savaia Marine Biodiversity Conservation Project is a village based, owned and operated protected area. Marine resources are managed in a sustainable manner for the benefit of village people now and in the future. The aim is to sustain the momentum and success of the existing reserve by extending its boundaries to accord protection of a wider area of the village marine environment and to reintroduce certain marine species that were once abundant in the area. The ultimate goal is to declare a significant part of the coastal lagoon area of Savaia marine reserve and to apply sound management practices in its operations. The project has a strong partnership with the Fisheries Division providing on-going technical support.

Source: SGP Samoa


The Savaia village and Marine Reserve are located in the south western region of the island of Upolu, along the Lefaga Bay about 30 miles from Samoa’s capital, Apia.

The Savaia Marine Reserve was established by decision of the village council in 2001 as part of the AusAID-funded community-based fisheries programme implemented by the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries (MAFF). The Savaia Reserve is one of more than 50 similar village projects supported by that programme. Over the years, other donors such as the GEF-UNDP Small Grants Program (SGP), AusAID, NZAID and the European Union have also provided support for the village project.


The goal of the Savaia Marine Reserve is “to improve the health of the coastal and marine environment from the impacts of cyclones, land-based pollution and unsustainable fishing practices”. Prior to the establishment of the reserve, the coastal resources of the village (including corals and reef) were seriously degraded as a result of cyclones ‘Ofa’ and ‘Valeria’ in 1990 and 1991 respectively.


The Savaia Marine Reserve is owned and managed by the village community. A Project Steering Committee (PSC), appointed by the village council, is responsible for implementing the project’s Management Plan and reports to the village council on a regular basis. Village women and other groups are often called upon to assist the implementation of particular activities of the project management plan as necessary.


With the help of the Fisheries Division, by-laws for the marine reserve were developed and approved in 2007. The by-laws give the village legal powers to protect the resources of the reserve and to take action against offenders.


The reserve contains a rich diversity of fish and colorful live coral species. Today, approximately 98 percent of the no-take zone of the reserve is completely covered by live coral. This is compared to less than 10 percent coverage when the reserve was first established. The most dominant coral species are pavona, porites and acropora.

During a recent marine resource survey of the reserve, up to 50 species of fish were observed in the no-take zone. They include parrotfish, angelfish, butterflyfish, damselfish, wrasses, triggerfish, surgeonfish and trevallies. Small black tip sharks have been seen swimming with schools of mullets close to shore. Hawksbill turtles have been found nesting in the area from time to time.

In 2001, 500 young giant clams (Tridacna spp) from Palau were introduced into the reserve. Another 500 young clams were imported from Tonga in August 2007. A few trochus animals (aliao) were also introduced by the Fisheries Division in 2007. Colonies of sea urchins are common in the reserve and the population of sea cucumbers is slowly increasing. The blue starfish and greenfish are found in the reserve.

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