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Tri Marine looks at establishing base of operations locally

reporters@samoanews.com

In a visit by Tri Marine executives, Renato Curto, Joe Hamby and others early this week, a meeting with Gov. Togiola Tulafono and a tour of the local shipyard was on their schedule, with the visitors leaving late Tuesday afternoon on their corporate jet.

Samoa News understands the meeting with the governor involved discussions of the company’s work with the Pelagic Fisheries Research Program, as well as looking at Tri Marine establishing their base of operations completely here in American Samoa, which would include not only their cannery plant but also their ships being repaired here.

Currently the company owns ten purse seiners and has many contracts with longliners and other purse seiners.

SHIPYARD

According to Carlos Sanchez, Chairman of the Board and acting general manager of the American Samoa Shipyard Service Authority, “we have repaired, sandblasted and painted more than 25 of these Tri Marine contract longliners since our year of operation which started in June 2011. We have been working very hard to prove and convince Tri Marine and all other boat owners that we are capable to do any ship repair jobs required.

“Our commitment to the shipyard has dictated our work ethic and has required us to work on repairs for the Tri Marine and other purse seiners and boats very thoroughly… we have been working overtime, holidays like Flag Day, New Year, etc. This has demonstrated our commitment to this shipyard and our ability to provide quality services in a timely manner.”

During Curto's visit to the shipyard on Tuesday, Sanchez said, he invited his port engineers and captains of each of their ships that are in Port (about six of them) to tour the shipyard with him.

“Curto discussed with us the refurbishing on one of his seiners in August,” said the Acting GM. “We have committed a full workforce in the shipyard to work two shifts with no interruptions to complete the requirements. This means we will be hiring 30- 40 people more for the work. And of course, this does not include the sub-contractors that will be needed for the job, which we estimate out at more than $1.5 million dollars.”

Sanchez said, “the key is to complete all repairs in two months. This will require us to double our labor force… It is a monumental task that many may think we won’t be able to do, but they don't know the capabilities of our workers, the commitment of our Board of Directors and the unemployed force that is available that we will start training within the next two weeks.”

“Mr. Curto and Trimarine are willing to cooperate with us in anyway they can, and they have offered to also bring in equipment that we may not have for our use on their fleet and maybe on other boats too… We are very excited about this opportunity but at the same time, we are under a lot of pressure for this huge task that we are undertaking.”

Sanchez, said it would be “easier to say that we cannot do this — as we already have a full schedule of repairs, but our commitment is to make the American Samoa shipyard "THE FLAGSHIP OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC" — which does not allow us to take the easy way out.

“We promised Mr. Curto that we can do this job; and we ask the people of American Samoa to be with us on this monumental task. We will need everyone's good faith and support for the army of workers joining in the fight for the economic well-being of American Samoa,” Sanchez explained.

PELAGIC FISHERIES RESEARCH PROGRAM

Discussions with the governor, which included Tri Marine’s work with the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), focused on the ways to minimize unwanted catch taken by purse seiners.

According to a press release from the Pelagic Fisheries Research Program, a Tri Marine vessel, the Cape Finisterre, is on charter to the ISSF, and looked at catches by purse seiners on drifting Fish Aggregation Devices, commonly called FADs.

These FADs are basically rafts that collect fish species that are set around by the seiners.

The Cape Finisterre returned to port briefly to change out scientific crew and make modifications to her net that may hold potential for reducing bycatch in purse seine fisheries

The goal is to minimize unwanted catch while maintaining economically viable catches of the abundant skipjack resources of the region.

Captain John Cresci and Navigator Mike Tallarida are working closely with the scientific team lead by David Itano of University of Hawaii.

The vessel left Pago Pago on May 22 working north and west of American Samoa where thirteen sets were made and many experiments and observations were taken. The cruise is part of a global project of ISSF to reduce bycatch or unwanted catch during tuna fishing operations, following ISSF funded cruises in the Indian Ocean and Eastern Pacific.

The idea is to pro-actively address issues in the fishery to reduce waste, minimize ecological impacts and improve the harvesting characteristics of tuna fishing.

According to the press release, “Bycatch” is a loaded word that implies waste, which is not accurate as a great deal of non-target catch can be released unharmed or utilized (eaten or sold).

Whatever the term, the project is addressing ways to reduce the mortality of turtles, sharks, mahi mahi, wahoo, rainbow runners and also undersized tuna that may be too small for processing or very low in value.

(On Wednesday, Samoa News reported of dead fish and turtles floating in the bay that were thought to be possible ‘by-catch’ dumped in Pago bay waters. The Department of Marine & Wildlife Resources said they were investigating the dead marine life and could not comment until they completed the tests, including a necropsy on the turtle.)

The research objectives address many issues critical to the understanding and sound management of our tuna resources with long-term sustainability as the end goal. Catch is being sampled and observed by various methods as the accurate counting of catch and non-target catch is the first step to understanding their stock sizes and resiliency to fishing pressure. The scientists are also well equipped with a wide range of electronic tags that will document the behavior of tuna, sharks and other fish species that are found around FADs.

A strength of the project has been the documentation of the behavior of tuna and fish in the net by scuba divers equipped with state of the art digital and video cameras. For details on the cruise see the ISSF website and the blogs that are sent out by the scientists on a regular basis:

http://iss-foundation.org/2012/06/05/separating-the-species/

http://iss-foundation.org/2012/05/29/working-in-the-southern-tokelau-zone/

http://iss-foundation.org/2012/05/25/departing-pago-pago/

The ISSF also posts additional information and pictures on their Facebook page:  Tuna Sustainability - ISSF.

Rhonda Annesley, Samoa News editor contributed to this story.

(Source: ISSF media release, June 13, 2012)



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