StarKist reaffirms support for Territory's longline fleet
StarKist Inc., owner of StarKist Samoa cannery, says they continue to be supportive of the local longline fleet and will continue to buy fish from them as a priority, but have called on the American Samoa Government to also make improvements that will help the longliner fleet.
Tautai Samoa Longline and Fishing Association member Christina Lutu-Sanchez told Samoa News more than a week ago that StarKist is among the three U.S. canneries that have either written or provided verbal support for the local longline fishing fleet.
Among the challenges faced by the local longliners is competition from Chinese vessels now fishing in the region, with their boats subsidized by their government and the limited space for docking vessels in Pago Pago harbor.
Responding to Samoa News questions and request for comments, StarKist spokesperson Michelle Faist, based at the company’s headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pa., provided a company statement.
“We want to take this opportunity to affirm that StarKist has been, and will continue to be, a supporter of the local longliner fleets. We are proud to work with our longliner partners in American Samoa and believe that the relationship between the local fleets and StarKist is truly symbiotic,” the statement said.
“Our history together runs deep, and StarKist has been honored to help build and champion the local fleets over the past decade. We will of course, as always, continue to buy fish from the local longliner fleets with priority,” it says.
According to StarKist, the “real issue is rationalizing Pago Pago Harbor so the needs of the various businesses are met, including the canneries, purse seiners, and longliners.”
“The longliners need dockage, and fuel and other expenses are high,” it says. “All of these factors impact the profitability of the boats. We will need help from the American Samoa Government for these improvements to occur.”
StarKist also said it is proud of the company’s 50-year history in American Samoa and is committed to the prosperity and success of the island’s economy and to the Samoan people.
“We have a vested interest in the success of the local longliner fleets, and are extremely grateful for their valuable contribution to our business. We look forward to continuing our work together in 2014,” the statement says.