DMWR seeks to remove derelict boats from the Marina
Owner of boats and vessels abandoned at the Marina have two weeks to remove their boats; otherwise, the American Samoa Government will become the legal owner of the vessels.
Responding to Samoa News inquiries, Boating Access Personnel of the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources said via e-mail that there are about four abandoned boats at the Marina, all there under different circumstances.
For instance, one of the boat owners left the territory, another boat has been turned over to ASG, and one was turned over to a local boat owner but the transfer of papers never went through. All of these vessels are not operable.
DMWR says they will utilize all efforts within the law to remove the derelict/abandoned boats.
When asked how the presence of these abandoned boats affect other fishing vessels and the local fishing industry, DMWR officials responded, “As far as being abandoned at the DMWR docks, SPACE is essential for active sports fishing boats to utilize and maneuver freely — either to repair, unload, and load supplies, etc…Safety is another issue that needs to be addressed due to these derelict/abandoned boats.”
The health of the marine environment surrounding the Marina is also a concern.
A meeting was held with small ‘alia owners, recreation/sport fishermen and longliner owners where they were all made aware that the grant that built and maintains the marina specifies that the marina was made for recreation/sport fishing.
According to DMWR, “Most of the longliner owners are aware of this and at present, the small ‘alia owners have a section in the Marina for their vessels.”
Currently, DMWR Director Dr. Ruth Matagi-Tofiga, along with Port Director Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Tuia-Poumele and officials of the Marine Railway are working together on ways to assist longliner owners in terms of berthing.
According to DMWR, all boat owners are responsible parties and they have all been informed of their status at the Marina. Following the 2009 tsunami, notices were posted and to date, most of the boat owners have not come forward to claim their vessels.
All boats have been treated differently, depending on the unique circumstances of each case. DMWR did confirm that there is a vessel that has been inactive at the Marina for over two years, as it was abandoned and sank where it stood at the Marina.
As for DMWR receiving any money from boat owners for the use of the Marina, DMWR personnel say each boat at the DMWR Transient Dock and Floating Dock Marina has a different case pending with their office. They did not go into specifics.
Anyone wanting more information on the abandoned vessels can contact the DMWR Boating Access Personnel: Wes Tuilefano, Esau Matau, Tovine Leifi, and Malo Tafeamaali’i.