Tri Marine Has 'No Plans' To Reopen Tuna Cannery In American Samoa

Despite high sustainability ranking from Greenpeace, company likely won't bring back 700 lost jobs

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, April 20, 2017) – Tri Marine International is pleased that a global environmental group have again placed the company’s canned tuna product on a high rating. However, Tri Marine has no plans at this point to reopen cannery operation at the Samoa Tuna Processors (STP) Inc., plant at the shoreline village of Atu’u.

Greenpeace USA released on Tuesday its second-ever canned tuna ranking, which placed Tri Marine’s product Ocean Naturals at 4th place in the group’s publication, 2017 Tuna Guide.

Tri Marine spokesperson Heidi Happonen said the Washington state based company is “pleased to see Ocean Naturals” ranked highly in this publication again.

“Sustainability, quality and community are all values we hold in high regard at Tri Marine. Responsibly caught tuna reflects those values,” Happonen said yesterday responding to Samoa News inquiries from Tuesday.

Greenpeace notes that the closing of Tri Marine’s American Samoa processing plant leaves questions about the future and direction of Ocean Naturals. It calls on Tri Marine to continue to help lead the industry in the right direction and use its clout to ensure that more responsibly caught tuna replaces destructive tuna lining supermarket shelves.

In terms of “any plans we may have for STP and our role in the global effort to improve access to more responsibly-caught tuna, the global demand for responsibly-caught tuna continues to grow and reports like this help to spur demand for those products,” Happonen said.

“The fact is, sourcing tuna in this way is more expensive and not all consumers are yet prepared to pay a premium for canned tuna that is recognized for sustainability,” she said. “While our operations in American Samoa unfortunately had to be suspended last year, we still remain committed to our values and are diligently sourcing the Ocean Naturals brand from our partner plants elsewhere.”

Asked about the future of reopening STP cannery, Happonen responded, “At this time, there are no new plans to reopen STP.”

However, “We remain committed to the global issue of sustainable seafood both through our sourcing strategies” and through Tri Marine’s Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certifications and various other non-government organization (NGO) partnerships along with other advocacy efforts within the industry, she explained.

“We join a growing number of voices in championing the long-term health of tuna around the world in support of both the resource and the communities that rely upon it,” she added.

Tri Marine last December closed down STP cannery operations laying-off some 700 workers. The STP facility remains opened with a limited number of personnel about 100 for other company operations. Tri Marine, so far, still has a US purse seiner fleet based in American Samoa.

The Samoa News
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