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Tri Marine voices need to manage region’s tuna stock

fili@samoanews.com

Tri Marine International maintains it’s a strong and continued advocate of managing the region’s tuna stock, which is an important resource to the survival of the tuna canning industry in American Samoa, according to Joe Hamby, the company’s chief executive officer.
 
Additionally, the company continues to support in every way possible the locally based fishing fleet, which is currently faced with various challenges, such as the low price of tuna and stiff competition from Chinese fishing boats.
 
TUNA STOCK
 
At last Friday’s news conference, Hamby cited among the challenges faced by Tri Marine— in order to be competitive in this global industry— the low price of tuna, adding that the “number one concern is the status of the tuna stock”.
 
He called for better management of tuna resources in the region.
 
“If we don’t manage the capacity of the fishing effort, the tuna stocks will be in jeopardy, because there will be more boats trying to catch more fish, because the price is lower, and they need to catch more just to ‘pay their bills’,” the CEO said.
 
“Instead, if there is a limited capacity of fishing effort, it’s going to be easier to manage the resource, according to what the scientists say,” Hamby said. “So the number one concern in my mind, and I’m speaking personally and also for our company, is [that] we need to control capacity.”
 
He added, “…this tuna resource has to be well managed, otherwise... this tuna industry in American Samoa is not going to survive.”
 
Asked by the media on how to control and manage tuna resources, Hamby responded, “You have to advocate”.
 
“Unfortunately, the regional fishery management organization, manage by consensus,” he said, adding there are some countries, whose members — for example some with the Western and Central Pacific Fishery Commission — they “don’t think there is a problem”.
 
“Or a country like China — putting their short term economic interests first,” he said and pointed out for example the WCPFC conference held early December last year in Cairns, Australia, where China didn’t agree with a measure that was going to control the amount of albacore tuna caught in the region.
 
In a statement to Samoa News last December concerning the plight of the local longline fleet, the Honolulu-based Western Pacific Fishery Management Council said, it strongly supported the measure proposed by the Forum Fisheries Agency in Cairns that would have capped albacore catches within exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and high seas.
 
This measure was proposed in order to stave off the economic collapse of South Pacific longline fisheries and unfortunately was not adopted by the Commission due to objections from China and Taiwan, the statement said.
 
American Samoa had also advocated support of the measure during the Cairns meeting.
 
At last Friday’s news conference, Tri Marine chief executive officer and chairman, Renato Curto emphasized that his company is not in any way getting into any political issues with countries when it comes to these types of issues.
 
He said,“…we try to do the best we can with what we have” and “follow the rules and we hope that everybody else follows the rules.”
 
LOCAL BOATS
 
Hamby said Tri Marine is continuing to work with the local fishing fleet, to help them to find better markets. However, “we can’t subsidize them, like some countries do,” he said, and noted there has been a lot of attention given by the local media, to how the local fleet is “suffering from unfair competition, from subsidized fleets around the world, especially the Chinese fleet.”
 
However, he says, “China is doing what they think is the right thing to do, by creating jobs, building boats, creating the jobs that are on those boats, creating jobs back in China when fish goes back to China to be processed, and even addressing their food security by bringing the tuna back to China, so they can consume it.”
 
The United States, on the other hand, does not have the same policy as when it comes to subsiding fishing boat, so the local boats in American Samoa have to “fend for themselves”.
 
Hamby explained, “We hope that our efforts to make a better market for higher quality fish [for export] will help them and we will work closely with the local fleet to make sure they remain viable, because we will depend upon them, not only for the fresh and frozen business, which opens next month, but also for the tuna that will be canned.”
 
Increase of Chinese fishing boats in the region was among the serious concerns raised by the local Tautai o Samoa Longline & Fishing Association, as their members tied up their boats and put them up for sale, last month pointing to the economic difficulties they are facing.
 
Of interest, … See story in today’s issue of Samoa News.



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