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Fono approves spending for StarKist settlement in supplemental budget

Rendering of proposed new Fono Building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Fono has given its endorsement to the Administration’s fiscal year 2018 supplemental budget of $2.6 million, which is American Samoa’s share of the $6.5 million settlement between the federal government and StarKist Co. for StarKist Samoa’s violation of environmental laws in territorial waters — mainly in the Pago Pago Harbor.

While there were suggestions in Fono committee hearings on possible amendments, in the end both the Senate and House approved their respective bills without any changes. The bill becomes effective upon passage by the Fono and approval of the governor.

During his testimony in the Senate committee hearing on the measure, Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale revealed that the settlement approved by the federal court in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, also provides that any future civil penalties imposed on StarKist for environmental violations in territorial waters, 50% goes to American Samoa.

For the current $2.6 million settlement, Talauega emphasized to lawmakers that it targets environmental improvements in the Bay Area, which is the most impacted site due to StarKist violations.

Distribution of the settlement, according to the bill, is as follows:

•    $1.5 million for construction of the Malaloa dock;

•    $400,000 for shipyard environmental compliance;

•    For American Samoa Environmental Projection Agency programs: $220,000 to Water Quality Program; $100,000 to Air Quality Program; $100,000 for Technical Consulting; and $80,00 for Harbor Clean up Program;

•    $120,000 towards environmental equipment — $60,000 each for pesticide residue testing equipment and a scrap metal baler; and

•    $80 for administration costs for proper disbursement of the funds.