P.M. predicts 1,000 jobs from fish products for export
Plans are afoot to create more than 1,000 jobs by cleaning fish loins in a processing plant to be established at the Apia Wharf, and then exporting the finished product to the American Samoan canneries.
It is expected that if this project goes ahead as planned, more jobs in the fishing industry are possible, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi is quoted as saying by the Samoa News.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Samoa Ports Authority (S.P.A.) General Manager Tufuga Fagaloa Tufuga said there is strong interest from Bumble Bee Foods to have its base at Apia Port for its loin and fishery operation.
A loin processing plant is where fish are cleaned and prepared for eventual canning.
However, Tufuga said any talks about a cannery in Samoa would be something for the American-based company to consider.
“There are various stages or phases for such an investment and Bumble Bee is in a better position to respond whether or not a cannery will be situated in Apia,” said Tufuga.
In an interview earlier this year with the Samoa News, Tuilaepa revealed that the canneries would remain in American Samoa.
He said that the establishment of a fish processing plant rather than a cannery is the more logical choice for Samoa because of the stringent federal policies and criteria regarding imports.
“So after the fish is processed here in Samoa, it will be taken to American Samoa which does not have to comply with all the red tape for the canning process and exported to markets in the mainland,” he said.
“This will be a win-win situation for us because not only will there be jobs for our people, but also our local fishing boats will have another market for their catches.”
He also revealed that the proposed fish processing plant will be established at Matautu-tai near the wharf.
He said that the a Bumble Bee Foods delegation had already visited the site and that they have informed him that it is the ideal site for their proposed plant.
Tuilaepa said that fishing boats will then dump their catches at the Mataututai plant for processing.
He pointed out that the proposed operation may be the answer if the Yazaki E.D.S. Samoa plant at Vaitele is forced to close down after the car manufacturing plants in Australia eventually pack up and leave, and the employees at Yazaki will be left without jobs.
“More than a thousand jobs will be created if this proposed fish processing plant eventuates,” said the Prime Minister.
“Not only that, the fishing boats which will be unloading their catches here will no doubt need repairs and they can be dry-docked at our facilities at Satitoa."
“Also, government has identified the need for a bigger international wharf and plans are already in the pipeline for the building of a bigger international wharf at Vaiusu Bay.
“So, the fish processing plant at Mataututai can expand when Ports Authority operations shift to Vaiusu.
“So you see, the future is looking bright if this Bumble Bee fish processing operation does eventuate.
“Right now, government has given its full support and we are going out of our way providing them with everything they need to make this operation a reality.
“We just have to wait and see what happens.”
Tufuga confirmed a delegation from the company would again be in the country this month to discuss the project.
“A top official or the C.E.O. for Bumble Bee Foods will be in Samoa within a couple of weeks to discuss matters with the leaders of government,” he said.
“It is obvious that as part of any major investment and negotiations of such a magnitude there usually a prior study mission-feasibility study before key decision makers are engaged in a dialogue to discuss and negotiate an agreement or M.O.U. (Memorandum of Understanding).”
Tufuga said the project would be beneficial to locals in terms of employment.
“Whatever fishery operations and depending on its size will provide employment and this is a great boost for the national economy in terms of export,” he said.
Tufuga added the loin plant would also make use of S.P.A. wharf terminals such as Aleipata especially the slipway facility currently leased to Samoa Shipping Corporation (S.S.C.).
He said it would benefit through ship repairs for any fishing fleet.