American Samoa Governor Discusses Cooperation With French Polynesia, Tokelau

Lolo, Fritch, Gaualofa talk air links, trade, tourism, fisheries 

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, June 12, 2016) – Air transportation service, tourism, trade and fisheries were some of the issues Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga discussed during meetings with leaders of French Polynesia (Tahiti) and Tokelau while in Samoa recently.  

The governor was invited by the Samoa government to that country’s Independence Day celebration, whose guests included French Polynesia president Tagaloa Edouard Fritch and Ulu o Tokelau, Aliki Faipule Afega Gaualofa.  

Lolo, accompanied by senior staff from the Governor’s Office including the governor’s executive assistant, Iulogologo Joseph Pereira, also attended meetings of the Two Samoa Talks Committee.  

Iulogologo said yesterday that the governor, while in Apia, met with Tagaloa, who is interested in collaborating with American Samoa with regards to channeling U.S. tourists to French Polynesia (Tahiti).  

“It appears that US visitors spend more money than visitors from the Pacific and Asian countries,” he explained.

“To accomplish this, air transportation was addressed — particularly on how American Samoa and Tahiti can be linked by an air carrier.”   (Samoa News understands that Air Tahiti Nui of French Polynesia is looking at air service between Tahiti and Samoa and this link could include American Samoa.)  

“American Samoa’s air transportation plight relative to frequency and exorbitant airfare… represents a barrier which needs to be resolved,” said Iulogologo, adding that other issues discussed between Lolo and Tagaloa included trade between the two Pacific territories, and fishery issues.  

Lolo also met with Gaualofa, given that the leadership for the Tokelau government has changed. Iulogologo said the two leaders “reaffirmed” the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed with the previous head of Tokelau in which the MOU calls for among other things, closer working relationships in areas of fisheries and trade.  

Iulogologo went on to point out that surface and air transportation constraints were also prevalent for Tokelau, as discussed between Gaualofa and Lolo.  

“Like all island micro-states, economic development is their highest priority. Issues such as trade, tourism, and fisheries were discussed,” he said and noted that in the last South Pacific Tuna Treaty talks, Tokelau “strongly supported fishing vessels home based in American Samoa to be given access to the Pacific Island Parties' exclusive economic zones.”  

Samoa News points out in December 2014, Tokelau and Tri Marine International, which has a locally based US purse seiner fleet and operates the Samoa Tuna Processors cannery, signed an MOU which will increase the economic benefits of the tuna fishery for Tokelau, as well as provide enhanced fishery monitoring and guaranteed long-term access to affiliated fishing vessels.  

As part of the MOU, the Tokelau government agreed to provide fishing access to longline vessels targeting both albacore and tropical tuna, in order to supply Tri Marine’s cannery.  

CENTER OF HOPE  

Lolo was also invited to participate in the Victims' Abuse Program activities administered by the not-for-profit organization, Center Of Hope or Nofoaga O Sulufa'aiga, under the leadership of Muli'agatele Lina Lo Tam, who is president of the group.  

“The First Lady, Cynthia Moliga, was also present and the experience was heartbreaking,” said Iulogologo, adding that the program provides permanent housing for young girls and boys who have been abused by their families and have no place to go.  

He said there were more than 50 children at the Center with ages ranging from newborn infants to 16 years or more.  Further, the Samoa government provided the land on which the facilities are built but daily operating needs are financed from donations.  

He explained that all the structures were built with donations from New Zealand, Australia and Samoa businesses, churches, organizations, and individuals.  

“There were ten newborns being cared for at the Center of Hope,” he said and noted that the Leone village delegation — who performed the siva and pese for Independence Day — were also present at the Center, as well as Chief of Staff Fiu Johnny Saelua, Rep. Puletuimalo Dick Koko, Samana Ve’ave’a, Joe Tavale, Andra Samoa and Faife'au Toma, who all donated food and money.  

He said the governor and the first lady also made a monetary donation and thanked Muli'agatele for the invitation.

The Samoa News
Copyright © 2016. The Samoa News. All Rights Reserved

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