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APIA, Samoa (October 12, 1997 - PACNEWS)---Samoa's Department of Fisheries has begun an intensive sea water monitoring program to determine the impact of ocean warming resulting from the El Nino phenomenon.

Acting Assistant Director of Fisheries Tony Mulipola says the Samoa project was initiated following reports of increased ocean warming from Australia to Hawaii.

In the Cook Islands, ocean warming is reported to have reduced fish catches there to the lowest level in memory.

Mulipola says his staff will closely monitor the effects of warming water on corals, fish behavior, and the marine environment in general. He says it is possible the increased sea temperature could affect the timing of the appearance and quantity of a local delicacy, the sea worm "palolo."

Malipalo says Samoa experienced sea warmings in the past, in 1982, 1983, and 1991, also due to El Nino.

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