Canneries Seek Concessions from ASG

Tri Marine International, the parent company of Samoa Tuna Processors, and StarKist Samoa are seeking concessions from the American Samoa Government to help offset conditions created by restrictions on access to fishing grounds and the collapse of the South Pacific Tuna Treaty .

Tri Marine, which dedicated its more than $70 million fish processing plant just a few days short of one year ago, is asking for a moratorium on lease payments for two years and a reduction in utility and water rates.

StarKist Samoa is asking for more dock space.

Tri Marine International spokesperson Heidi Happonen said Governor Lolo is working through his Fisheries Task Force to better understand the difficult business conditions now being faced by the canneries due to the many challenges being encountered by the entire industry, especially the fleet from the recent collapse of the South Pacific Tuna Treaty and restricted fishing access to the high seas to the increasing costs of production and decreasing tuna prices.

She said Tri Marine is primarily concerned about the locally based US flag purse seiners that represent the backbone of the supply of tuna to the canneries.

Happonen said their company faces the “difficult choice of either slowing down production or importing higher cost raw materials.”

She said options represent a potentially heavy blow to the local economy and the viability of tuna processing in the territory.

StarKist Vice President Michelle Faist’s immediate reaction was for KHJ News to reach out to the ASG and Governor’s Office for their feedback.

KHJ News sent a request to the governor’s fisheries consultant Vaamua Henry Sesepasara Thursday morning, the same time it sought comments from the canneries, but he has not responded.

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