Community News Briefs

compiled by Samoa News staff

FONO APPROVES LEGISLATION AMENDING TBAS STATUTE 

The Fono has officially endorsed an Administration bill that seeks to amend the Territorial Bank of American Samoa statute by deleting several provisions of the law pertaining to the bank’s “Holding Company — Territorial Bancorp Holding Company."

The final vote came yesterday after the Senate gave a unanimous approval of the House version of the bill, which also makes technical amendments to the law, including the 7-member governing board becoming the TBAS board of directors.  Another proposed amendment clarifies that the “CEO and the management team are responsible for the management” of TBAS.

The legislation is now registered in the Fono journal and will be sent to the governor for his signature. The measure becomes effective immediately upon passage by the Fono and approval of the governor, according to bill’s language.

LCOAL DELEGATION ATTENDING FISHERY COMMISSION MEETING IN MANILA

American Samoa has a delegation, headed by Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources director Va’amua Henry Sesepasara, attending the 14th Meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) at the International Convention Center (PICC), Manila, Philippines.

American Samoa is part of the US delegation led by officials of the US Commerce Department. Issues at the WCFPC meeting from Dec. 3-7 relating to American Samoa are tuna stocks and purse seiner fishing.

Samoa News understands the meeting will also finalize the number of fishing days in the US Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZs) and on high seas for US purse seiner fleets for calendar years 2018 and 2019.

The territory’s delegation includes Joe Hamby, chief operations officer of Tri Marine International, which owns a purse seiner fleet that was once based in Pago Pago. The majority of the vessels have now been relocated elsewhere due to fishing restrictions in nearby historical fishing grounds and on the high seas.

The main objective of the American Samoa delegation is to raise awareness of the Territory's dependency on the tuna industry and the fact that WCPFC decisions have a direct impact on the American Samoa community.

“We expect that awareness of American Samoa's vulnerability to changes in the management of the fishery, e.g., closures of fishing grounds and reduced access to historical fishing grounds like the high seas, will help the Commission make better decisions,” said Hamby, responding to Samoa News inquiries.

“Hopefully, there will be open discussions about how past closure of the purse seine fishery in the high seas has caused significant economic damage to the Territory's tuna dependent economy,” he continued via email over the weekend.

FISHERY COUNCIL CONGRATULATES STARKIST AND US LONGLINE FLEET

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council has congratulated StarKist Inc., for securing the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Fisheries Certification for the US flagged longline fleet based in American Samoa.

The Honolulu-based Council supported and pushed for the fleet to get MSC certification  and worked closely with the British-based company that conducted the certification assessment. Last Thursday, StarKist announced that the fleet has secured the prestigious certification, which was funded by the company.

“The certification is a testament to the Council's stringent management measures and monitoring of the fishery,” the Council said yesterday in response to Samoa News inquiries.

These measures include a limited entry program, daily logbook requirements, vessel monitoring systems, observer coverage, spatial management, and protected species mitigation measures, it says.

“The Council appreciates the efforts and financial resources provided by Starkist to obtain the MSC certification and hopes that it provides benefits to fishery participants and Starkist in the near future.”

ALLIANCE TAKES PART IN FAMILY VIOLENCE CONFERENCE IN SAMOA

Representatives from the Alliance for Strengthening Families, American Samoa Alliance Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (ASADSV) recently returned from Apia, Samoa, after attending the three-day "Empowering the Family Unit to Stop Violence" conference.

The local delegation was invited to the event by Family Court Judge Talasa. 

"It was incredible and we learned so much," said Mona Uli, ASADSV outreach community advocate coordinator who was accompanied to the conference by the Alliance's interim executive director Jennifer Tofaeono, Frances Thompson, and Judy Matautia.

The event was officially opened by Chief Justice Patu Tiava’asu’e Falefatu Sapolu, at Hotel Tanoa Tusitala on Nov. 26th (Samoa Time). Patu called for a comment approach to addressing violence.

He said the conference is not only to inform participants on the Samoa Youth Court and Family Violence Court in addressing the problem of violence, particularly violence relating to criminal offenses, but also the provide a forum to deal with issues that come before the courts.

The training, according to the Samoa Observer, was driven by a partnership between the Youth and Family Violence Court and U.N.I.C.E.F., in a bid to curb the growing number of violent incidents involving youths.

Those who spoke and presented during the event included Judge Fepulea’i Ameperosa Roma; Justice Vui Clarence Nelson; U.N.I.C.E.F. Child Protection Officer, Tupepepa Aumua; Police Commissioner, Fuiava Egon Keil; and Attorney General, Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff.

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