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Min wage hike delay equals Tri Marine moving forward

fili@samoanews.com

With the next minimum wage increase for American Samoa delayed until 2015, Tri Marine International president and chief executive officer Renato Curto tells Congressman Faleomavaega Eni the company’s investment in the territory is now moving forward.

Additionally the Bellevue, Wash., based company has begun operations involving sashimi grade fish for shipment to premium markets in Japan and the U.S.

In a letter yesterday, Curto thanked the Congressman “for your hard work and dedication in ensuring passage of the legislation that delays further increases in minimum wage in American Samoa.”

“This removes the potentially chilling effect that further increases in wages would have on the American Samoa economy and our diligent efforts to develop the Tri Marine processing operations and creating new jobs in the territory,” said Curto, who noted that the company’s “investment in American Samoa is now moving forward with more confidence.”

Curto also updated the Congressman on the company’s progress and plans for the territory regarding Samoa Tuna Processing Inc., operating a tuna cannery at the old COS Samoa Packing plant, a freezer storage facility and fresh fish export.

First, he said the company is operating one 2,000 ton cold storage facility at Samoa Tuna Processor in support of both the purse seiner and longline fleets based in American Samoa. The other cold storage facilities on site have been demolished and “a new 5,000 ton capacity, energy efficient cold store” is under construction with a scheduled completion date of early February next year.

“We have also begun operations involving sashimi grade fish which is received fresh, graded, packed and shipped by air to premium markets in Japan and the U.S. mainland,” Curto explained. “We are also receiving and freezing high quality fish that is being sold in whole form or is being processed into raw frozen loins for the restaurant trade.”

According to the company president, the project to build the new processing facility for this fresh and frozen product is now underway and is to be completed in early April of next year.

“We believe this will provide a significant opportunity for the local fisherman to participate more fully in the higher value markets of the tuna industry,” he said.

As for the tuna canning facility, Curto said the design work is now complete and work has commenced to “build a truly unique, state-of-the-art facility that meets the highest standards of hygiene for processing and packing tuna into cans and pouches.”

When this is completed the second half of next year, he said, it will “create many new jobs and be a real source of pride” to American Samoa and Tri Marine.

“Global competition is here to say and it is critical that we find ways to remain competitive in the world tuna market. We are making a very large investment in American Samoa because we believe it can and will be competitive,” he said.

In closing Curto said the Congressman’s successful efforts on the recently passed legislation is a “critical contribution to the territory’s development”.



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