StarKist given land option for freezer storage facility, but not shipyard land

fili@samoanews.com

Based on a recommendation from Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, StarKist Co., has been informed that the ASG land at the shipyard in Satala cannot be leased to the cannery, which has instead been offered another parcel of land at the old Satala power plant site.

For more than a decade now, StarKist has been trying to obtain government land to expand its storage freezer facility but has been unsuccessful. StarKist’s move became more urgent in the last two years, during the Lolo Administration, as the cannery sought more storage space, for fish supply to prevent any last minute shutdown of production.

Last year, discussions between StarKist and ASG Shipyard Service Authority, which oversees the shipyard, centered on land in the shipyard compound, but by the end of 2016, things were not looking good for the cannery.

At yesterday’s cabinet meeting, Lolo said the cannery has been informed that the shipyard land is not available for the freezer storage and to look at another site.

Responding to Samoa News questions and request for comments StarKist Co., corporate spokesperson Michelle Faist said the company would have a statement out later this week on this issue.

Shipyard Service Authority board chairman Keniseli Lafaele, who is also the Commerce Department director, and shipyard chief executive officer Moefa’auo William Emmesley have held discussions since last year with StarKist officials on the shipyard land.

Responding to Samoa News inquiries after yesterday’s cabinet meeting, Lafaele said StarKist was informed about the shipyard’s decision in a May 18th letter, in which ASG offered an alternative space for Starkist cold storage — at the old location of the Satala power plant.

“StarKist is very important to American Samoa and we are helping SK get a suitable location for its cold storage,” Lafaele said yesterday afternoon. “The Shipyard needs all of its current space to upgrade its current slipway and repair services and to expand its services to include boat building and an apprentice program.”

At the cabinet meeting yesterday morning at the Department of Agriculture conference room, the governor said the government is working on many capital improvements for the shipyard, such as the new building, so the facility could get insured as well as getting more revenues for the shipyard through the service it provides- e.g. vessel repairs.

Lolo says a recommendation has been presented to the cannery to look at another site. He says it’s not good for ASG to allocate funds for shipyard improvements but turn around and remove part of the shipyard property by leasing out land.

Samoa News understands that it was Lolo who recommended to the shipyard board not to use shipyard land but look at other alternate sites in the bay area.

Shipyard received funding early last year from proceeds of the ASG bonds sale to get more upgrades to the facility.

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