Fishing, Shipping Top Agenda At 2Samoa Talks

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Independent and American Samoas hold annual dialogue

By Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luamanu

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Dec. 28, 2015) – The Two Samoa’s dedicated a lot of time to discussing the fishing and shipping industries, according to a statement issued after the close of the 2Samoa Talks earlier this month.

The two-day meeting outlined the American Samoa Fisheries presentation on the support needed from Samoa to facilitate commercial fishing access for its purse seiners and fishing boats. The document, which resulted from the meeting, notes that it was acknowledged that the tuna canneries in American Samoa provide employment to Samoan nationals hence the need for cooperation in these areas. Further the Director of the Department of Marine and Wildlife (DMWR) elaborated on the need to develop local fisheries through programs such as the Community Fishery Management program or Fa’asao, and the need for both countries to collaborate on ways to support the fisheries industry.

Also noted are that the local purse seiners in American Samoa are trying to get more fishing days and something similar to the Tokelau Arrangement because American Samoa purse seiners are considered a US fleet, the local purse seiners are negatively impacted by an existing federal law (South Pacific Tuna Treaty). "Therefore, American Samoa would like to call on Samoa for assistance to explore more opportunities for the fisheries industry"

Further noted was that the American Samoa Shipyard Services Authority’s supports the DMWR request because ASSSA’s operations rely entirely on maintaining and repairing ships. The shipyard would lose out without the fishing industry. Samoa and American Samoa governments are to pursue other mutual areas of interest in the fisheries sector to ensure the ongoing supply of fish for the canneries in American Samoa. This also includes employment opportunities at the cannery and the shipyard.

The local Department of Agriculture enumerated several initiatives through the assistance of a consultant. "Overall, they have been working on planting and observing several agricultural commodities (e.g. the local growth of sixteen varieties of onions, carrots, watermelons, sweet potatoes, Idaho potatoes) as well as locally made feed for chicken and pigs." The two Samoas noted and agreed that the proposed arrangement between the two Samoa’s will include trade in services and labor mobility. "The key areas considered include existing services provided across the two Samoa’s such as air transport (Polynesian Airlines), telecommunications (Bluesky Communications), financial (Fexco and Western Union), maritime (Samoa Shipping Corporation), tourism and professional services (SSAB)."

The meeting acknowledged the role of Samoa Shipping Corporation (SSC) in trade between the two Samoa’s and for the entity to consider containerized shipping options. The SSC was also acknowledged for providing essential services to the Manu’a islands when American Samoa vessels were unable to operate due to compliance issues with the United States Coast Guard (USCG). It was also noted that ASG would facilitate meetings with the USCG about requirements for the shipping of hazardous materials/goods between Tutuila and Manu’a because SSC is not allowed to currently ship these materials.

The two Samoa’s are to consider ways in which Samoan trained seafarers could work on ships and boats in American Samoa, and the fact that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) recognizes their training and qualifications.

The meeting further acknowledged the opening of the new maritime training center in Samoa, which is an option for American Samoa’s qualified high school or community college students for training. It will also be an employment opportunity for tradesmen from Samoa to service ships at the local shipyard.

Another concern raised during the meeting was the high cost of freight charges by the Samoa Shipping Corporation.

Samoa News will report on the last portion of the Samoa Talks in an upcoming issue. Another meeting is scheduled for next month in Samoa.

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