ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIRED ABOARD FOREIGN FISHING BOATS VISITING AMERICAN

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SAMOA: AN ISSUE

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (September 25, 2000 - Samoa News/PINA Nius Online)---Vessels entering American Samoa waters will have to have on board at least one person who speaks both English and the native language of the Master/Captain of the vessel.

That’s if legislation transmitted by Governor Tauese Sunia to the Fono is approved.

However, with only eight days left in the 26th legislature and the 2001 budget still not passed, the legislation may not be tackled by the Fono.

The governor said the new law is not as strict as a federal requirement that requires vessels to have someone who can speak English maintain a "listening watch" at all times.

"Fishing boats, particularly Taiwanese and Korean fleets, have great difficulty complying with this (requirement)," wrote the governor to the Fono leadership. "When the fishing fleet owners train persons to be bilingual, those persons are no longer willing to go to sea as fishermen, as they seek higher paying jobs commensurate with their bilingual abilities."

Tauese said the Taiwanese and Chinese fishing fleets have threatened a boycott of territorial waters unless the English language requirement is waived.

And if this regulation deters foreign fleets from entering the territory’s port, Tauese predicts that the local economy will be gravely affected as:

* fish available to our canneries will decrease;

* the reduction in fish will cause a lay-off of workers at the canneries;

* the lack of ships will cause a possible closure of the Southwest Marine ship repair facility; and

* our economy will lose approximately $50,000 to $100,000 in expenditures made by the owners and crews of each ship.

Tauese is asking the Fono to approve the new local legislation to provide a viable and responsible alternative to the federal rules.

Items from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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