American Samoa's local longliner fleet gets new dedicated dock space

The long-awaited project to build a dock for larger American Samoa fishing vessels broke ground on 7 April, and had a groundbreaking ceremony on 7 May, according to a press release from the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council.

The new berthing area extends the current dock by 450 feet, and will grant the longliner fleet in the area its first dedicated space. Local longliners currently berth “opportunistically” at the main Pago Pago port, StarKist, and Malaloa facilities, but can frequently be required to move when container ships and cruise liners require them to relocate.

The groundbreaking ceremony took place at the Malaloa Marina in Pago Pago, and was attended by Governor Lolo M. Moliga, members of his staff and cabinet, the Silva Group contractors, and members of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council.

“We must maintain this fishery,” Kitty M. Simonds, executive director of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, said. “It is one of three U.S. tuna fisheries in the western and central Pacific. It has been challenged by current gaps in the management of South Pacific albacore by international fishery commissions. The United States needs to remain a pivotal player in these management and conservation negotiations.”

The American Samoa longline fleet is composed of 16 vessels, most of which measure 79 feet in length. The fleet also includes and smaller alia (traditional catamaran-style) vessels. The local fleet targets albacore tuna, which is delivered to the StarKist cannery, while incidental catches of marlin, yellowfin, and bigeye tuna are sold to local businesses, and used for cultural and community obligations.

The council assisted the American Samoa government in the expansion of docking space in Pago Pago harbor with USD 195,000 (EUR 180,787) sourced from the Sustainable Fisheries Fund.

The funds are utilized in support of the Marine Conservation Plan for each of the U.S. Pacific Territories. The money was used for the design phase of the dock project, under the agreement that the local government would identify a funding source for the construction of the dock.

“This is a great milestone and a long time coming,” Taotasi Archie Soliai, council chair and a manager at StarKist, said. “The council is extremely excited and looks forward to this project completion, so more dock space is available to our local fleet. Our goal is to work with the territorial governments to provide support for their MCPs, and this dock expansion falls in line with those objectives. A big heartfelt appreciation goes to Gov. Lolo Moliga and his administration for the funding allocation towards this project. This is a win-win situation for everyone.”

Image courtesy of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council


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