StarKist Samoa’s parent company assures it will do everything it can to remain in American Samoa but it critically needs more fish storage space to ensure a constant and stable supply of fish.
That was the message from StarKist President and CEO, Mr. Andrew Choe, who candidly answered questions from the press at a news conference on Friday before departing that night after a brief visit.
Its been nearly ten years since StarKist Samoa has been trying to secure additional freezer space to no avail.
The cannery currently has a 5,000 metric ton freezer which can hold enough fish to last ten production days.
But Mr. Choe says with less certainty in boats calling into port to deliver fish, increasing the cannery’s cold storage capacity is more critical now than ever before.
He explains that even if access to nearby fishing grounds is secured, if they can’t increase cold storage, production will be affected similar to what occurred recently at the StarKist Samoa plant.
Work tables faced a reduction in hours because the cannery didn’t have enough fish to process.
Mr. Choe said while StarKist Samoa is the biggest tuna producer in the world it has perhaps the smallest fish storage capacity.
He said the need to increase StarKist’s cold storage is more critical now than at any other time.
Mr. Choe spoke positively about Governor Lolo Moliga and his staff’s appreciation of the dilemma that StarKist faces and he has confidence in the governor’s statement of support and his commitment in finding a quick solution.
StarKist Samoa official, Taotasi Archie Soliai said when Mr. Choe met with Governor Lolo Moliga, Lt Governor Lemanu and staff, the governor appointed the lt. governor to head a team that will work with StarKist to identify land areas that are mutually beneficial and is in close proximity to the StarKist plant, for the cannery.
After the meeting, Mr. Choe had a walk through the net repair area at the shipyard in Satala with the CEO of the American Samoa Shipyard and the Director of Commerce.
This is one of the areas being considered for the cannery’s fish freezer.
Asked if StarKist will remain in American Samoa Mr Choe had this to say.