Proposals to aid longline fleet now on Lolo’s desk
The ASG committee assigned to identify areas to help the local longliner fishing fleet has submitted their recommendations to Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, who will issue a decision after consulting with relevant directors, says Iulogologo Joseph Pereira, the governor’s executive assistant.
Committee member Keniseli Lafaele, Director of the Department of Commerce, told Samoa News last month the panel was established some three months ago and tasked with “identifying problems faced by our local fleet of longliners, and coming up with solutions” to assist the plight faced by that fleet.
Besides Lafaele, other committee members are Port Administration director Dr. Claire Tuia Poumele; Marine and Wildlife Resources director Dr. Ruth Matagi Tofiga; and the Governor’s Legal Counsel Steven Watson. (Based on the latest information this week from Lafaele, then acting Territorial Energy Office director Timothy Jones is no longer a member of the committee).
The group recently completed its work and a report was submitted to the governor for review.
Responding to Samoa News questions, Iulogologo said the “salient recommendations” sent to the governor for consideration are:
• Waive Excise Tax on fish not sold to the Canneries;
• Reduce Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources docking fees;
• Eliminate additional fees for vessel activities in the Harbor;
• Construct Docking Buoys for temporary docking; and
• Stop charging overtime for after hour services rendered by Port, Immigration, and Agriculture personnel.
“The Governor is reviewing these recommendations and will issue his decision on the recommendation after consultation with relevant cabinet directors”, i.e the Attorney General, Treasurer, DOC director, Port Administration director, DMWR director, Public Works director and Department of Agriculture director, said Iulogologo.
He also says members of the ASG Ad Hoc Port Fees Task Force have been discussing the issues with some of the members of the Tautai o Samoa Fishing and Longline Association upon which it based its resultant recommendations to the Governor.
(The governor appointed last July the ad hoc task force, who are directors of Commerce and Port Administration, the Chief Procurement Officer, ASG Treasurer and the Governor’s Legal Counsel. They are tasked with reviewing fees and charges currently in place at the port and airport divisions of the Port Administration.)
Asked if the governor plans to meet some of local boat owners to discuss their plight, Iulogologo responded, “unless I'm wrong I have not seen an official request from the Tautai... association expressing their interest to meet with the governor or documenting specifically what type of assistance the association expects to receive from the Government.”
He continued, “The government fully supports our local fishing fleet association and the government has taken actions within its financial capacity and legal purview to do what it can to improve the operating environment and enhance the operational viability of the fishing vessels homeport here.”
Iulogologo said some of these actions are being proposed by the ASG committee. “There is urgency attached to the issue and the government is very mindful of that fact,” he added.