National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa

Managing Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Sanctuary Advisory Council

Current Advisory Council Members


Chair: Dean Hudson (Ocean Recreation Member)
Vice Chair: Henry Sesepasara (Commercial Fishing Member)

Voting Members

American Samoa Community College/Sea Grant: Ephraim Temple
American Samoa Department of Commerce - Resource Division: Lelei Peau
American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources: Ruth Matagi
American Samoa-Environmental Protection Agency: Ameko Pato
Business/Industry: Thomas Drabble
Commercial Fishing: Henry Sesepasara
Community-at-large (West Tutuila): Atapana Fili Fuimaono
Community-at-large (East Tutuila): VACANT
Community-at-large (Manu'a Islands): VACANT
Community-at-large (Swains Island): Su'a Alexander Eli Jennings
Education: Netini Sene
Ocean Recreation: Dean Hudson
Research: Charles Birkeland
Tourism: David Vaeafe

Non-Voting Members

National Park of American Samoa: Jim Bacon
NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO): Fatima Sauafea-Le'au
NOAA Office of Law Enforcement: Kevin Painter
Samoa Government: Taule'ale'ausumai La'avasa Malua
Youth (age 14-25): Charity Porotesano
U.S. Coast Guard: Eric Roberts
ONMS Pacific Regional Director: Allen Tom


photo of Jim BaconMember: Jim Bacon Seat: National Park of American Samoa
On the council since: 2013

Jim Bacon is currently serving as the Superintendent of the National Park of American Samoa. Previously, he worked as an Outdoor Recreation Planner at Yosemite National Park and for the Denver Service Center. He previously served as a social scientist in Yosemite and helped to start and implement a visitor use and resource impact monitoring program. Prior to Yosemite he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala where he advanced community-based ecotourism and environmental education projects. Bacon holds a Master's of Science in Natural Resource Planning from the University of Vermont.

Charles BirkelandMember: Charles Birkeland
Seat: Research
On the council since: 2010

Charles Birkeland has been doing research on coral reef ecology and management since 1970 when he was a post-doc at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. He was a professor at the University of Guam Marine Laboratory from 1975 to 2000 and has been at the University of Hawaii since 2000. He has done much of his field work in American Samoa, beginning in 1979. The main focus of his research has been the factors that determine reef resilience or capacity for reef systems to recover. He has also been especially interested in how life history characteristics of species affects their role in the system, e.g., why the crown-of-thorns starfish has such an impact, and how the older individuals in populations of fishes can have disproportionate effects on the ecosystem and on the resilience of their own populations.

Member: Thomas Drabble
Seat: Business/Industry
On the council since: 2012

(Biography currently unavailable.)

Member: Atapana Fili Fuimaono
Seat: Community-at-large (West Tutuila)
On the council since: 2012

(Biography currently unavailable.)

Dean HudsonMember: Dean Hudson (Chair)
Seat: Ocean Recreation
On the council since: 2005

Dean Hudson was born in New Plymouth, New Zealand in 1958. He completed School at New Plymouth Boys High School, and then went on to complete a NZ Certificate in Land Surveying. He worked in NZ in various surveying roles, moved to Australia for 4 years, then returned to NZ and worked for several more years doing construction surveying and Project Management before coming to American Samoa in August 1988 to work for Fletcher Construction building the executive office building. After completion of this, he went on vacation to the US skiing for 3 months, returning to American Samoa on his way back to NZ in 1990 right after cyclone Ofa. He has been Branch Manager of Fletcher Construction American Samoa ever since. During this time he has been a Rotarian and is a past president of the Rotary Club of Pago Pago. He has served as Chairman of the Board for Pacific Horizons School for 3 years. He also served on the Governors Economic Advisory Council in the field of Marine Commerce and Construction. Hudson has worked with the American Samoa Community College on developing apprenticeship programs at the school. He has been on the advisory council since its inception in 2005 and served as chair for 5 years chair.

Hudson is an active member of the Pago Pago Game Fishing Association, and an avid sailor of Hobie 16's (he was a Bronze medalist in the 1997 South Pacific Mini Games). A retired surfer, his other Interests include swimming and skiing each year with his daughter Evelyn (who attends Tafuna High School).

Hudson is married to Isabel Steffany Hudson, who is the Area Manager for the Hamburg Sud shipping line and looks after Samoa and Tonga markets. Together, the Hudsons own and manage LeFalepule Lodge and Moana O Sina Resort, both of which are high quality boutique style accommodations that are continuing to be developed.

Su'a Alexander Eli JenningsMember: Su'a Alexander Eli Jennings
Seat: Community-at-large (Swains Island) Member
On the council since: 2013

Su'a Alexander Eli Jennings moved to American Samoa in 2005 to serve as the Swains Island Delegate in the American Samoa House of Representatives, and was recently selected for a 5th term. During his legislative Tenure he has served as Chairman of the House Commerce Committee (2008-2010) and House Transportation Committee (2010-2012), and currently serves as Chairman of the House Homeland Security/Public Safety Committee.

Jennings has served as both the Swains Island Project Manager and Swains Island Tokelau Community Leader since 2005. For the former, Jennings plans, organizes, and carries out numerous projects, including: renovating Swains Island schools, the dispensary and church building; and expeditions of Amateur Radio Operators, DMWR, other government departments, and the American Samoa Community College marine science class. Jennings also organizes and directs the Swains Tokelau Community to participate in various traditional events on island (i.e., funerals, weddings and celebrations). In 2005, he organized the first ever Swains Island Flag Day. In 2007, he coordinated the first ever visit of an elected Governor to Swains Island, which also included a visit with the Tokelau government in Atafu Tokelau. In 2008, he was bestowed the traditional title of High Chief Su'a from Lefaga Samoa, and that same year he constructed the Tokelau Fale in the Su'igaula Park for the South Pacific Arts Festival. In 2010, he accompanied the High Commissioner of New Zealand onboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter to provide water for draught stricken Tokelau. Jennings has also hosted various delegations of the Tokelau Government visiting American Samoa.

Jennings is also a pilot, airline safety auditor and FAA licensed Airframe and Power plant (A&P) Mechanic. He flies Dornier 228 aircrafts for Inter Island Airways and has flown Shorts SD 360 aircraft for Freedom Air from American Samoa to Guam.

As an Elder at the Leone Church of Christ (across from Midkiff elementary), Jennings teaches Adult Bible class, serves as a fill in preacher and oversees the affairs of the Congregation.

In 2009, Jennings attended the sanctuary's first public scoping meetings and submitted a request to include Swains Island in the proposed expansion of the National Marine Sanctuary in American Samoa. He has served as an advisory council member since 2013.

Member: Taule'ale'ausumai La'avasa Malua
Seat: Samoa Government
On the council since: 2013

(Biography currently unavailable.)

Member: Ruth Matagi
Seat: American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources Member
On the council since: 2013

(Biography currently unavailable.)

Member: Kevin Painter
Seat: NOAA Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) Member
On the council since: 2010

Kevin Painter of NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement is currently assigned to the Pago Pago Field Office. His office is located on the second floor of Pago Plaza. His office is responsible for the enforcement of national marine sanctuary regulations.

Ameko PatoMember: Ameko Pato
American Samoa-Environmental Protection Agency Member
On the council since: 2013

Ameko Pato has worked in Saipan for the Public School System as a teacher and administrator for eight years. He worked for the Department of Education for 12 years as a teacher, Principal, Social Studies Program Coordinator and Data Analyst. He also served 6 years in the US Army as a Military Police. He is currently the Director of American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency. Pato has an MA in Education Administration/Supervision from the University of Phoenix, a BA in Political Science from the University of Hawaii, and an AA degree in Liberal Arts from American Samoa Community College.

Member: Lelei Peau
Seat: American Samoa Department of Commerce - Resource Division
On the council since: 2005

(Biography currently unavailable.)

Charity PorotesanoMember: Charity Porotesano
Seat: Youth (age 14-25)
On the council since: 2012

Charity Porotesano is 22 years old and lives in the village of Fagatogo. She is the representative for those under age 25. She currently teaches 6th grade social studies at Matafao Elementary. During her free time, she enjoys tutoring young people in English and reading historical fiction. She believes the ocean is American Samoa's most precious resource, and she hopes to work together with other young people and the advisory council to help preserve this resource. Porotesano became an advisory council member in 2012.

Eric RobertsMember: Eric Roberts
Seat: U.S. Coast Guard
On the council since: 2011

Eric Roberts is the Marine Protected Resources Program Manager for the U.S. Coast Guard's Fourteenth District, located in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is responsible for developing policy and overseeing Coast Guard law enforcement operations supporting the protection of Marine Protected Species (MPS) and Marine Protected Areas throughout the western and central Pacific Ocean. Roberts also coordinates District Fourteen's MPS conservation response program under the national Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Roberts serves as the primary representative to the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa Advisory Council, in addition to the Hawaiian Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

Fatima Sauafea-Le'auMember: Fatima Sauafea-Le'au
Seat: NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO)
On the council since: 2011

Fatima Sauafea-Le'au is a Samoan, born and raised in American Samoa. She is the oldest of 5 children to a retired educator Mr. Siona T. Sauafea and the late Mrs. Fatima Uli-Isaia Sauafea. She is a proud mother of four beautiful and bright boys whose names all start with O – O'Riley, Orion, Oliver, and Oasis. Sauafea-Le'au started her career in the marine and fisheries field when she worked at the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources in 1999 as a Fisheries Technician. In 2001, she stepped up to a Fisheries Biologist position and began the Community-based Fisheries Management Program (CFMP). She began working in coordinating a lot of trainings and consultations with the Secretariat of the Pacific Environment Regional Programme (SPREP) and the Fisheries in Samoa to assist with the implementation of the CFMP in American Samoa. In addition, she assisted the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Community Fisheries program to initiate community-based fisheries programs to the pacific islands such as Fiji and Marshall Islands. In 2003, she left DMWR with 7 village MPAs in the CFMP program and started working for NOAA Fisheries-Pacific Island Regional Office (PIRO). She is currently working for NOAA-PIRO in the Habitat Conservation Division as a Fishery Biologist and the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) Fisheries Liaison for American Samoa. Sauafea-Le'au works to assist the local jurisdiction with its coral reef management initiative and also to evaluate Federal actions in American Samoa for impact to US trust resources, especially Essential Fish Habitat (EFH).

Netini SeneMember: Netini Sene
Seat: Education Member
On the council since: 2009

Netini Sene is the Science and Health Coordinator for the American Samoa Department of Education (DOE). Her position deals with the review of instructional materials for science and health programs. Sene monitors the curriculum out in schools, provides and assists in the Teachers Staff Development of the curriculum, standards and assessment. She is also the secretary to the Department of Health's HIV/STD Core group. She is the DOE's representative to the American Samoa Community College-Area Health Education Center board. She also serves as the DOE's coordinator to the Hawaii based John Burns Medical School's local program called the Short-Term Education Program for Underrepresented Persons (STEP-UP), a component of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney diseases Strategic Plan in Minority Health Disparities. In addition, Sene has also served as the education member on the sanctuary advisory council since 2009.

Sene graduated from Leone High School in 1978 and four years later, received her undergraduate degree in biology and chemistry from Northeast Missouri State University. Her masters degree is in Leadership in Education from the University of San Diego. Sene worked as a Science Teacher at Leone High School before moving on to the DOE's Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Accountability.

Sene coordinates and is responsible for all DOE science and health special projects. One of the special projects the community is very involved in is the Wellness Fair to promote Healthy Living in American Samoa.

Her husband Carl Sene is the Internet Systems Engineer at the American Samoa Telecommunication Authority. The Senes reside in the village of Auto and are blessed with one beautiful daughter.

Member: Henry Sesepasara (Vice-Chair)
Seat: Commercial Fishing
On the council since: 2009

Henry Sesepasara represents the interests of the indigenous and local commercial fishermen. He was the former Director for the Department of Marine & Wildlife Resources for a total of 16 years. This included during the transition governments of the appointed Governor Frank Barnett (1972-1976) & Governor Rex Lee (1976-1977), and the first elected Governor Uifa'atali Peter Coleman 1977-1985 & 1988-1992.

Ephraim TempleMember: Ephraim Temple
Seat: American Samoa Community College/Sea Grant
On the council since: 2008

Ephraim Temple has worked in American Samoa since August 2007 as an assistant extension agent for the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program. As part of his responsibilities he is privileged to join the science faculty at the American Samoa Community College in developing local awareness of and skills in marine resource management. He is the aquaculture program coordinator for the Community and Natural Resources Division at the college and manages the Center for Sustainable Integrated Agriculture and Aquaculture. He was selected as the American Samoa Representative for the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System in January 2008 and coordinates ocean observing efforts through this program. Temple has been a member of the Sanctuary Advisory Council since 2008.

Temple received a BS in Zoology from the University of Hawaii-Manoa and a MS in Fisheries Science with a minor in Marine Resource Management from Oregon State University. Prior to arriving in American Samoa, he was the Oregon Sea Grant Legislative Fellow for the Oregon 2007 regular legislative session.

Member: David Vaeafe
Seat: Tourism
On the council since: 2011

David Vaeafe is a journalist and editor by profession who has been working for over 25 years in the fields of media, business and trade, tourism, education, and non-government sectors throughout New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands. A 1985 graduate of the journalism school at Waiariki Community College in Rotorua, New Zealand, Vaeafe has worked for a number of media publications in New Zealand and Samoa, including as editor of two newspapers in Auckland, New Zealand: the Tamaki Times and Business to Business. Other career highlights include working as a travel writer for Travgram, Travel Digest and NZ Traveltrade magazines (covering Malaysia, Japan, Hawaii, Western Samoa, Tonga, Niue and Fiji) for a number of years in New Zealand. Vaeafe was also the first New Zealand Marketing Representative for the Samoa Visitors Bureau in Auckland, establishing the office from scratch in 1996 and running it for eight years. He has also worked as a freelance writer, writing travel features, brochures and press releases, and conducting tourism research for a number of tourism clients including national tourism offices, airlines, travel wholesalers and resorts. More recently, Vaeafe was a founding staff member of the Pacific Cooperation Foundation in Wellington, New Zealand (a non government organization funded by the NZ Government Ministry of Foreign Affairs), where he was employed as a Program Manager responsible for a broad range of projects throughout the Pacific Islands covering trade, media training, human rights, business, labor mobility and cultural heritage.

On the education side, Vaeafe was an executive member of the New Zealand Journalist Training Organization (2004 to 2009 based in Wellington) and lectured regularly at a number of journalism schools throughout the country on diversity reporting. He has also mentored a number of journalism students at these schools.

Seat: Community-at-large (East Tutuila)

Seat: Community-at-large (Manu'a Islands)

Revised July 19, 2017 by National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa | Contact Us
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