Negotiations being conducted in American Samoa could lead to the reopening of a tuna cannery that closed last year.

The plant, owned by Chicken of the Sea, closed last year citing the 2007 minimum wage law that mandated an increase for workers until the federal minimum wage of USD 7.25 an hour is reached. Cannery workers' current minimum wage of USD 4.76 an hour is set to increase by USD 0.50 on 30 September and reach USD 7.25 an hour by 2014.

Gov. Togiola Tulafono in a joint news release with Tri Marine on Friday, said that an effort by Tri Marine International to acquire the plant is conditional on the company securing a long-term ground lease and other agreements with the government.

Tri Marine has fishing boats in American Samoa and is developing a plan to restart fish-processing operations using the Sampac facility. The Samoa News reported Thursday that Tri Marine would pay less than USD 5 million for Chicken of the Sea's  fixed assets in Samoa.

"While there are many details to finalize, we are looking forward to concluding an agreement that will allow us to resume tuna processing operations at the plant," said Joe Hambry, Tri Marine's managing director. "I can tell you that we are not trying to replicate what Chicken of the Sea was doing. That business model was obviously not sustainable. We will need to do something more, something different."

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