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Local StarKist plant will can Cook Islands tuna for Asia-Pacific market

The Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources has announced that it will begin shipments of Albacore tuna to the Starkist Samoa cannery in American Samoa for processing under the label “Cook Islands Golden Tuna,” which will be produced for the Cook Islands and Asia markets.

A Samoa News e-mail sent Tuesday to StarKist headquarters seeking comments and more information on this venture have not elicited a reply. Among the questions asked is when this venture is to commence and will this venture result in adding more workers at the StarKist Samoa plant.

This August 31 announcement took place the same day Gov. Togiola Tulafono signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the government of the Cook Islands pledging mutual cooperation in the development, management and conservation of fisheries, according to a news release from the Governor’s Office.

The MOU was signed in Rarotonga, Cook Islands while the governor was attending the Pacific Island Forum leaders meeting, where American Samoa has observer status.

Under the MOU, the Cook Island Ministry of Marine Resources, the American Samoa Government and the Government of the Cook Islands agree to work cooperatively on a number of issues, including a South Pacific Albacore management regime, the monitoring of Cook Islands flagged vessels using the port of Pago Pago, the exchange of fisheries related information and research, and personnel exchange visits.

The MOU also invites the Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources to establish an office in American Samoa. (Officials of the Cook Islands were in the territory this year scouting a site for their office.)

At the signing ceremony, held at the National Auditorium of the Cook Islands, the Governor stated that he was grateful for the opportunity to strengthen and advance the relationship between American Samoa and the Cook Islands in the margins of the Pacific Island Forum.


Meanwhile, the governor addressed the leaders of the member and observer countries at the opening plenary meeting of the Pacific Island Forum on Aug. 28. He spoke at length about the theme of this year’s forum “Large Ocean Island States – the Pacific Challenge.”

With regard to the theme the Governor spoke about cooperatively addressing a burdensome challenge facing all Pacific countries — climate change.

He spoke of the rising sea levels due to climate change and quoted from a recent study by the U.S. National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, stating “rising acid levels have emerged as one of the biggest threats to coral reefs, acting as the ‘osteoporosis of the sea’ and threatening everything from food security to tourism to livelihoods.” He urged leaders to join in cooperative ocean and coral reef conservation efforts.

The Governor stressed the need for Pacific countries and territories to work together to achieve their economic and social development goals.

“I view our observer status as an opportunity to strengthen economic and other ties with Forum member countries… The more we interact economically with each other the better [it will be] for all of us,” he said.