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Tri Marine promises fishermen good pay for fresh tuna

By Jeff Hayner PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Nov. 12, 2010) - Tri Marine Group Managing Director Joe Hamby met with Tau Tai o Samoa Longline Association on Wednesday to explore ways to get the best quality tuna for the cannery the Tri Marine group is reopening in American Samoa.

Hamby arrived in the territory Tuesday, and has had a meeting with Gov. Togiola Tulafono, as well as reviewing the former Sam Pac (COSI) plant which will be reopening in the near future.

Samoa News understands Hamby brought with him possible investors or potential vendors for the Tri Marine cannery venture, who also met with the Governor, and took a tour of the plant.

On Oct. 5 2010, Togiola, together with the CEO of Tri Marine, Renato Curto and the CEO of Chicken of the Sea, Shue Wing Chan, signed off on several agreements that has paved the way towards the reopening of the fish cannery plant, once operated by Chicken of the Sea (COSI) in American Samoa, as a Tri Marine operated plant.

"We have been looking at this project for a couple of years, and it was only last month that we finalized the acquisition of the Sam Pack. It’s a very challenging project, because it is one of the largest tuna canneries in the world." Hamby said, addressing the association.

"We used to own Chicken of the Sea along with Thai Union, so we are very familiar with the tuna business, in fact I was president of the tuna plant that was owned by Tri Marine and Thai Union, called Pan Pacific, but unfortunately, that one could not survive either. It was too to costly operate, trying to compete against someone like Thailand, and unfortunately the biggest product the U.S. is demanding from them out of the canned tuna, is a really lousy quality product, that is sold at a very cheap price, and the consumers have become accustomed to the buying price, and not the quality," he said.

"We want to can tuna in American Samoa, but we want to can a very good quality, and part of our business plan, is to can tuna in it," Hambry said, "it is a tuna cannery, and we are not going to change it from a cannery, and the fact that it is located in a great area to fish, where you guys are catching good quality fish and bringing them here."

He continued: "Instead of just canning fish, we are also going to do fresh and frozen, and give you guys the opportunity to deliver to the plant the best quality fish, and then pay you for it."

"If you bring in fish that’s the fresh grade, you will get the fresh price, and if you bring in fish that is the sashimi grade, then you will get the sashimi price," Hambry explained, "and there will no more of this, ‘if you bring in the best quality fish, sorry we can only pay you the cannery prices.’ We are going to give this facility the capability of handling fresh fish."

Hambry noted that "we used to be in the frozen business, we had a processing plant in Singapore, we were getting from mostly Taiwanese longliners, sashimi grade, and semi- sashimi grade. We have some experience in the frozen business, but it hasn’t been for about, more than five years."

Headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, Tri Marine is the world’s largest trading company in tuna and related products with a significant presence in the United States, Singapore, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Italy, Spain, Mexico, and other Latin American countries. It handles about 600,000 tons of tuna annually, which equals to about 20% of the global trade in tuna for the canning industry.

It owns, operates, and/or contracts fishing boats and processing plants to serve the global tuna industry including the major brands of tuna in the U.S.

In 1995, it purchased the last remaining U.S. based cannery, in a bankruptcy auction in federal court in Los Angeles, this according to,

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