The delegate for American Samoa to the U.S. House of Representatives has asked U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to investigate the possibility of opening U.S. national marine monuments to fishing by American-flagged vessels.
Rep. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-American Samoa) said fishing prohibitions in marine monuments, including the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, were hurting American Samoa’s canneries, which have experienced shortages of product that have led to closures, according to Talanei, a news site in American Samoa.
“My conversation with Secretary Ross was about the need for American fishermen to be able to fish in waters that have been designated as marine monuments,” she said. “While I think we can all agree about the importance of the national marine monuments, how they protect our pristine waters and coral reefs; the lack of consultation with the local American Samoan community and the fishing industry at large has created detrimental effects on our economy.”
According to Amata, she asked Ross about the possibility of creating a waiver for U.S. flagged boats that would allow them to fish for tuna, while maintaining other environmental rules created by the monument designation.
“These monuments take up 25 percent of our exclusive economic zone waters in the Pacific,” Amata said. “Our canneries need fish and out people need their jobs back, and the current rules governing the marine monuments are preventing either from happening.”
In October 2016, Tri Marine shuttered its USD 70 million (EUR 63.6 million) tuna-canning factory in Pago Pago, American Samoa, citing a lack of fish supply as a central cause for the closure.