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CONGRESSMAN ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA American Samoa U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C.

News Release October 21, 2002


Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he will be meeting with American Samoa’s tilapia farmers at his Utulei office on Thursday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. to promote further economic development. Also attending this meeting will be Dr. Darren Okimoto, Sea Grant specialist, and Papalii Dr. Tusi Avegalio, Director of the Pacific Business Center at the University of Hawaii.

"I would also like to invite any members of the public who may have an interest in fish farming to attend this meeting," Congressman Faleomavaega said. "It has always been my dream to establish fish farming at a level that will diversify our economy and promote further economic development in the Territory. When the American Samoa Economic Development Commission surveyed our community, 63% of those surveyed also said that agriculture and fishery related industries should be developed to improve our economy. This is why I have aggressively worked to bring a full-time Sea Grant extension agent to American Samoa."

"For more than two years, I have worked with the National Sea Grant College program and the Director of Hawaii Sea Grant to obtain funding for this important initiative. I am pleased to announce that American Samoa now has a full-time, on-island Sea Grant specialist to help us develop aquaculture farms where we can grow ornamental clams, soft coral, and especially tilapia," Congressman Faleomavaega said. "Dr. Darren Okimoto arrived on island last month and we have already met and begun work on our ornamental clam project."

"Dr. Okimoto and I will now be meeting this Thursday with American Samoa’s tilapia farmers. Dr. Okimoto has a Ph.D. in marine biology and his expertise is in tilapia. I am convinced that his knowledge and expertise will assist our local tilapia farmers in increasing their production and expanding their markets," the Congressman said.

"At Thursday’s meeting, Dr. Okimoto will be discussing ways in which we can measure consumption and demand, and how we can lower the costs associated with fish farming. It has always been my understanding that in any fish farm operation, 50% of the costs are in the feed. In the coming months, it is my intention to meet with the CEO of Chicken of the Sea International to discuss ways we may be able to utilize some of the by-products from our canneries so that we can make our own fish feed here in American Samoa. If we can produce our own feed instead of buying it from off-island sources, this will be a tremendous savings to our farmers. Simply put, this will help our farmers increase their profits while also lowering costs for consumers," Congressman Faleomavaega said.

"I have also invited Papalii Dr. Tusi Avegalio, Director of Pacific Business Center at the University of Hawaii School of Business, to attend Thursday’s meeting. Dr. Avegalio will be working with our farmers to develop a cooperative and a market feasibility study. We will be looking at the feasibility of growing enough fish to export regionally. As I have said before, the ocean is our farm. We are rich in marine resources and we must capitalize on the opportunities and resources that are available to us. Aquaculture is a multibillion dollar industry and there is no reason why American Samoa should not be a part of this worldwide industry."

"I want to commend Alosina Toomalatai for almost single-handedly establishing tilapia farming in American Samoa," Congressman Faleomavaega said. "Through Mr. Toomalatai’s efforts and generosity in supplying our local farmers with fingerlings, there are now about 26 tilapia farms up and running in the Territory. I also want to thank Mr. Toomalatai for meeting with me last week, and for his willingness to assist in this effort to encourage economic development in our community."

"I also want to thank Dr. Ron Baird, National Sea Grant Director, Dr. Gordon Grau, Hawaii Sea Grant Director, and Dr. Darren Okimoto. I also want to thank Dr. Adele Satele Galeai for supporting the presence of Sea Grant at the American Samoa Community College. Dr. Okimoto will be teaching courses at ASCC and I am hopeful that this will encourage some of our students to pursue studies in the marine sciences at the University of Hawaii and one day return home to teach and practice."

"Once again, I would like to remind our tilapia farmers that we will be meeting with Dr. Okimoto and Papalii Dr. Tusi Avegalio on Thursday October 24, 2002 at 5:00 p.m. in my office in Utelei (633-1372). I would also like to invite any members of the public who may have an interest in fish farming to attend this meeting. We will be passing out packets of information about how to establish tilapia farms and how to form local cooperatives. I am hopeful that as a result of this meeting we will one day be able to establish fish farming at a level that will diversify our economy and promote further economic development in the Territory," the Congressman concluded.

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