Congestion at ports on the US West Coast may lead to shipping delays for American Samoa.
Industry sources say whereas ships can usually get a berth in Long Beach and Oakland ports in one or two shifts for loading and unloading, waiting time is now extended.
For example the Polynesia arrived in Long Beach on Sunday and had to anchor awaiting a berth due to congestion.
As of now an estimated time for the vessel to berth is not known, and it’s up in the air how long before it can be loaded and continue on to Oakland. It’s expected that the same delays will happen in Oakland.
Governor Lolo Moliga and Congresswoman Uifaatali Aumua have written to the President and CEO of the Pacific Maritime Association Mr James McKenna asking for special consideration of vessels that come to American Samoa.
Governor Lolo wrote that American Samoa, as a remote US territory in the South Pacific is exclusively reliant upon reliable and regular service from the US West Coast.
“I have been made aware of vessels being delayed in California due to high cargo volumes and a shortage of labor,” said Lolo. “A few years ago , there was also a problem with getting sufficient labor allocated to vessels and we were able to get priority as a domestic port even though the ships that call in American Samoa are not US- flag vessels due to American Samoa having Jones Act exemption.”
Lolo requested Mr McKenna to “do what you could to assist the people of American Samoa who rely on shipping for our food and to keep our fragile economy afloat. Please allow the ships that call at the ports of Long Beach and Oakland and then come here to American Samoa be granted the same preference as US flag vessels. ”
Congresswoman Uifaatali asked that the Pacific Maritime Association treat vessels that call to American Samoa as domestic cargo vessels thus moving those ships up the waiting list.
She said getting the ships the same consideration as US flag vessels “will assist the people of American Samoa that rely on shipping for our food.
The congresswoman also pointed out, “We are also one of the world’s largest canned tuna producers. And our products are shipped to the US for domestic consumption. “