Longline fishing association requests meeting with Governor Lolo
Tautai o Samoa Longline and Fishing Association members have expressed appreciation for the support it has received from the community and others during the difficult times faced by the longline fishing fleet, while the association president has requested a meeting with the governor.
Longline boat owners put ‘For Sale’ signs on close to 20 vessels docked at the main harbor as they continue to face many challenges, including local issues dealing with lack of docking space, and international matters such as the drop in the price of tuna.
A statement yesterday, provided by local businessman Carlos Sanchez, who owns six longline boats, on behalf of the association, states members are very appreciative for the support shown by the Lolo administration, Tri Marine International, StarKist and the general public “during these difficult times that we are going through.”
“Last week was a very difficult one as certain statements made us uncomfortable. The reassurance of the support by the plants and the recent announcement by the Governor and administration gives us hope,” the statement says. “It is extremely encouraging, and it is definitely giving us a revived outlook towards the future of our industry and our economy.”
“Along those lines, we are encouraged that we can continue to stay in the business because we know that when help is needed, our leaders will listen and respond,” it says. “So, we are actually looking favorably towards working with the major partners in the industry and our government to make things work and allow us to continue to contribute to the building of our economy and our industry.”
The statement cautioned that, “We are not out of the woods, but everything that has been considered and extended to the local fleet gives us the courage and confidence to move forward together.”
Earlier this week, association president Rasela Feliciano sent a letter requesting a meeting of their membership with Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, “to explain how we can pass this terrible hurdle without a financial burden to the canneries or local government,” said Sanchez.
Last February, the association wrote to the governor outlining their concerns and requesting a meeting, but when asked last week, if Lolo plans to meet local boat owners to discuss their plight, the governor’s executive assistant Iulogologo Joseph Pereira said, “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.”
Iulogologo did point out the government fully supports the 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 home ported in Pago Pago.
(Samoa News should point out it has published stories where the association stated they sought a meeting with the governor in February. Read Dec. 18 story for more details.)
Samoa News Editor-in-Chief Rhonda Annesley and reporter Fili Sagapolutele contributed to this report.