Press Release – American Samoa to Break Ground on New Fishing Dock (6 May 2020)
PAGO PAGO, AMERICAN SAMOA (6 May 2020) The groundbreaking ceremony for a long-awaited dock for larger American Samoa fishing vessels will take place tomorrow at 9 a.m. at the Malaloa Marina in Pago Pago. Gov. Lolo M. Moliga, members of his staff and cabinet, the Silva Group contractors and members of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council are scheduled to attend.
The new berthing area extends the current dock at the Malaloa Marina by 450 feet. It will be used by the local longline fleet, which currently has no dedicated dock and opportunistically berths at the main Pago Pago port, StarKist and Malaloa facilities until the arrival of purse-seine vessels, cruise liners and fuel and container ships requires them to relocate.
The American Samoa longline fleet is comprised of 16 vessels averaging 79 feet and three smaller alia (traditional catamaran style) vessels. It targets albacore tuna, which is delivered to the StarKist cannery. Incidental catches of marlin and yellowfin and bigeye tuna are sold to local businesses and used for cultural/community obligations.
“We must maintain this fishery,” says Kitty M. Simonds, executive director of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council. “It is one of three US 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.”
At the request of the American Samoa government to provide assistance in addressing the lack of docking space in Pago Pago Harbor, the Council provided $195,000 through the Sustainable Fisheries Fund. The funds are used to support the Marine Conservation Plan for each of the US Pacific Territories, which includes fisheries development as one of the objectives. The funds were used for the design phase of the project with 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,” says Taotasi Archie Soliai, Council chair and a manager at StarKist. “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!”
Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council: Secretary of Commerce appointees from nominees selected by American Samoa, CNMI, Guam and Hawai‘i governors: Archie Soliai, StarKist (American Samoa) (chair); John Gourley, Micronesian Environmental Services (CNMI) (vice chair); Michael Duenas, Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Association (Guam) (vice chair); Edwin Watamura, Waialua Boat Club (Hawai‘i) (vice chair); Howard Dunham, commercial fisherman (American Samoa); Monique Amani, business owner (Guam); Michael Goto, United Fishing Agency (Hawai‘i); McGrew Rice, charter boat captain (CNMI). Designated state officials: Anthony Benavente, CNMI Dept. of Lands and Natural Resources; Suzanne Case, Hawai‘i Dept. of Land & Natural Resources; Chelsa Muña-Brecht, Guam Dept. of Agriculture; Henry Sesepasara, American Samoa Dept. of Marine & Wildlife Resources. Designated federal officials (voting): Michael Tosatto, NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office. Designated federal officials (non-voting): RADM Kevin Lunday, USCG 14th District; Michael Brakke, US Department of State; Brian Peck, USFWS.