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Tri-Marine briefs new administration on status of operations

fili@samoanews.com

The Lolo Administration received a briefing on Tri Marine International’s operations in American Samoa during a meeting last Thursday, as the U.S. based company is hoping to get their tuna processing plant construction moving. The hold up is still with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, who issue the federal permits for major shoreline projects.

Representing Tri Marine and its local subsidiary Samoa Tuna Processors (STP) Inc., were the company’s senior officials Joe Hamby, Dan Sullivan and Alfonso Pete Galeai. STP is Tri Marine’s local company dealing with its tuna cannery.

Responding to Samoa News inquiries, Sullivan said on Wednesday that, “we had a very nice, informal meeting” with Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Sialega Mauga.

“It was an opportunity to congratulate them on their electoral victory and to give them a brief update on the activities of STP and Tri Marine and our projects here,” said Sullivan, who is Tri Marine’s vice president of production.

“We also wanted to show our support to the governor and his efforts to develop the economy of American Samoa,” said Sullivan. “Our plan remains as previously described and includes the new 5000+ ton cold storage, fresh and frozen fish processing and the tuna canning operation.”

Sullivan said the company is currently still waiting for approval from the Army Corps for “our permit to install a new seawall, which includes some fill to provide space for the installation of a new fishmeal plant.”

During a news conference here last October, Tri Marine officials — which included Sullivan and Hamby — told reporters that the company is looking at hiring in excess of 1,000 workers for its new tuna processing facility in American Samoa, but moving this project forward is on hold, as they have been waiting for more than a year to get a federal permit approved to rebuild a collapsed seawall next to the plant.

They also shared that the company’s new "energy efficient cold store” was scheduled for completion in early  2013. The cold storage is located away from the site of the processing facility for which they are awaiting the permit for the seawall construction.

“Our concern is, that before we start spending many, many millions of dollars in a plant that may ending up sliding into the bay, we want to make sure that the seawall is repaired,” Tri Marine chairman Renato Curto told reporters at the time.

Lolo’s office said Wednesday that the governor and lieutenant governor were informed during the meeting that the  new cold storage facility will be dedicated next month and had extended the invitation to both of them. Additionally, the company re-stated that their goal to establish American Samoa as the hub for all Tri Marine fishing vessels and others to off-load their fish. (This was first revealed by the company during last year’s news conference.)

Responding to Lolo’s question regarding the date for the completion of the production plant, Tri Marine says it will take about 15 to 18 months before this facility is completed, but moving this project forward has been delayed, as they are still awaiting approval by the Army Corps, according to the governor’s office.

Lolo impressed upon Tri Marine the ultimate goal of the administration regarding the creation of jobs immediately to accommodate thousands of residents looking for jobs and the company stated that the production plant will employ about 1,000 workers.

“Tri Marine also expressed interest in the Shipyard and also proposed to the Governor the lease of land which is part of the Slipway compound,” said the Governor’s executive assistant Iulogologo Joseph Pereira.

In his State of the Territory Address, Lolo said “creating jobs is the target” for the administration as part of its economic development agenda. (This was also part of the Lolo/Lemanu campaign focus last year.)

“The economy cannot grow if people don’t have money to spend. It is imperative therefore that new jobs must be created,” Lolo said. “We intend to accomplish this by reaching out to the private sector, by developing and strengthening working partnerships dedicated to expanding their operations and making sure that they are profitable.”



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