WestPac offering support for Manu'a and Aunu'u fishermen
According to its staff report on local community activities and issues related to fisheries, Manu’a and Aunu’u fishermen are getting assistance from the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council.
The report, which was prepared ahead of the three-day Council meeting which opened yesterday in Honolulu, says the Council has agreed to provide two insulated fish totes to the alia fishermen of Manu’a for the purpose of improving the efficiency of transporting fish caught by alia fishermen on Ofu, Olosega, and Ta’u islands in Manu’a, to markets on Tutuila.
The totes — large (4’x4’) insulated cooler boxes with snap down sealed lids — will allow fishermen to pack fish in ice and transport them via ASG’s vessels, MV Manu’atele or MV Sili, to be sold in Tutuila.
It was last year that Saite Moliga, then American Samoa Alia Fishing Association (ASAFA) president, asked the Council to provide insulated fish coolers for use by the alia fishermen residing in Manu’a, to be placed under his supervision.
In a meeting with the alia fishermen in April, the report notes, the Council staff revisited this request, and two such insulated coolers will be provided for the Manu’a fishermen.
The report points out that the ice and fuel facilities on Ta’u and Ofu islands were also provided by the Council at the government’s request, to assist with the development of small boat fishery, and they were part of a broader plan of development to be utilized in conjunction with, among other things, the fish market at the Fagatogo Marketplace and the fisherman training program.
However, the report adds, the facilities in Manu’a have not been utilized, and do not benefit the fishermen in their current state. Furthermore, Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources personnel will travel to Ofu and Tau with the Council’s American Samoa Island Coordinator to assess the condition of those facilities and the state of the ice machines, ice storage bins, generators, and the 500-gallon fuel containers purchased by the Council back in 2011.
A refrigeration specialist will accompany them on the trip and conduct a formal assessment, and they will report their findings back to the Council.
There was no mention in the report on when the assessment will be carried out.
According to the report, it was last April that Council staff visited the island-village of Aunu’u, where village chiefs spoke about their desire to develop their alia fishery, and discussed the possibility of having a flake ice machine and storage container installed at the ASG building adjacent to the Aunu’u Island Marina boat ramp.
According to the report, after discussions with those chiefs and further consultation with the Sa’ole County Rep. Kitara Vaiau, it was determined that the best option for the Aunu’u alia fishery was a flake ice machine capable of producing over 900 lbs. per day of flake ice, and a storage bin with enough capacity to hold at least 500 lbs. of ice.
The report notes that Aunu’u is currently working on drafting a request to ASG to assist them in their efforts to build up their small boat fishery and supplement the Council’s assistance by allowing the ice machine to be installed at their building by the boat ramp, and to support the alia fishermen by covering the cost of the utilities for the machine.
The chiefs and fishermen of Aunu’u would then assume responsibility for maintenance and security of the machine and its storage container.
This initiative was the result of a visit to Aunu’u in October 2015 by the Council staff and its members, when American Samoa hosted the Council’s 164th meeting.
“With prime bottom-fishing grounds around the waters of Aunu’u Island, the residents depend on the fish caught by the villagers who own alia boats for both family and community obligations under the fa’a Samoa, and for commercial income of the fishermen to feed their families,” the report says, adding that the project will assist the Aunu’u boat owners with their fishing development efforts, providing assistance in building needed infrastructure.