American Samoa Longline Fleet Given Temporary Lifeline

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Smaller area off-limits for large vessels may save industry

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 25, 2014) – The owner of a longline fishing fleet in American Samoa says a decision which allows large vessels a greater area to fish, is a huge relief and will mean the business can survive another year.

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council voted to modify the large vessel prohibited area for one year, to help out the American Samoa fishing fleet.

Last year, 'for sale' signs went up on Longliner fishing boats, with owners citing competition from Chinese fishing vessels and a lack of government support as reasons they had to sell up.

For local longliners, the modification will mean instead of having to travel 50 nautical miles out of port, they can fish from 25 nautical miles out.

Local owner Carlos Sanchez says this will allow them more time to fish, as well as save costs on fuel consumption, and they are very appreciative to the council for its decision.

"They save us, they are trying to make us survive which is all we can ask. We were completely dead, all the fleet was tied up, we have now out of 18 boats, 8 boats are operating, and we hope by next month about 12 boats will be operating."

Carlos Sanchez says local operators still feel they have been abandoned by the government, but with the help of the council he is trying to diversify his business in order to survive.

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