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Sixteen longline mariners receive certificates

Sixteen Longliner mariners have just completed two weeks of training for U.S. Masters operating in the American Samoa Longline Fishery. The training was coordinated with the Tautai-O-Samoa-Longline & Fishing Association, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) American Samoa Safety Detachment Office, American Samoa Shipyard Services Authority and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Observer Program.

The classes were held at the Ronald Reagan Marine Railway in Atu’u in the NOAA classroom, as well as onboard the FV Tifaimoana fishing vessel for hands on training.

Samoa News spoke with one of the instructors, USCG Lieutenant Stephen Caskey, who said, “We’re training these longliner captains — U.S. Captains — to be more knowledgeable about the safety equipment and not just the basic stuff that the Coast Guard requires.”

“We are on board to teach some of the smaller things that are recommended, to be a little bit above safety requirements, so that they will be more knowledgeable about how to identify problems before they occur.”

“The better trained the crews and the captains are, the easier they will be able to identify a problem before it occurs. That is the biggest thing behind all of this... to try and prevent any problems before they actually have any emergencies on board.”

He went on to say that they have brought in an ‘Unlimited Master’, who has been hired to teach the navigation classes, the rules of the road (what should happen when two boats meet) the rules of the sea and how they react to each other based on which way they are approaching.

They were also taught about bridge equipment, charts, compasses, how to read navigation lights and different rules related to navigation.

“NOAA is teaching the fishery side — such as what is required for fisheries, and their regulations. They are going through the NOAA required drills, fire drills, ‘abandon ship’ drills and they have partnered up with the Coast Guard for the drills. As the Coast Guard, we taught them what it is to be a captain of a U.S. vessel and what is expected of them,” said Caskey.

The group went through a full Coast Guard exam on the boat, he said, to teach them what the Coast Guard looks for and the little things that they can do “to recognize things before they go wrong so they can get them repaired.”

He explained, “Now they are a little more familiar with us, and will be able to call us and talk to us about what they might think be a problem... so now they are not as apprehensive to call us to come and help, before they actually have a problem. It reduces the animosity between the fishermen and the enforcement person. Basically it is a partnership with industry, so they don’t feel as uncomfortable when we come around to try and help them,” said Lt. Caskey.

According to Carlos Sanchez, the chairman of the Shipyard Authority and development officer for the Tautai Fishing Association, “After years and years of the American Samoa boat owners requesting this type of training from the government, fishery council, local canneries and the college, nothing came out of it. Finally, several boat owners took the initiative to go forward with the necessary training,” said Sanchez.

Four boat owners paid for this first round of two-week training, according to Sanchez. They are Long Line Services Inc. (Carlos and Christina Sanchez), Feli Fisheries (Tony and Rasela Feliciano), Flora Fisheries (Edgar Feliciano) and Tuna Ventures (Vince Haleck and Family).

“We are very lucky that we are able to hire a highly qualified unlimited U.S. captain (Mr. James Jaqua) who is here for a few months to provide instruction. Mr. Jaqua assisted us in the first round of training and he will continue to to do this until he leaves in April. Another two weeks of training is scheduled to start on the first week of March,” Sanchez said.

Here is the list of the 16 Longliner captains who received the ‘Certificate of Completion’ from the Tautai O Samoa Long-Line & Fishing Association for the training period of Feb. 6-16, 2012:

Junior Leiofi

Vala Jr.

Albert Faikoia

Ralphaelle Novo

Roy Pitolau

Aperaamo Mulitalo

Roy Supalo

Penisula Siofaga

Tusi Faafetai

Eseue Pou

Mikaele Tauasosi

Pule V. Ioane

Talosoa Siva

Iese Gali Jr.

Talosaga Stua

Ronald Wells