Manu’a fisheries getting a boost from Council-funded projects
Fishery development for the Manu’a Islands is getting a boost early next month with the official dedication of its long-awaited fuel storage and ice making facilities, thanks to the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council.
Fuel storage and ice-makers for the island group’s fishing fleet are projects being developed by the Council with the assistance of the local Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources.
As reported by Samoa News in 2011, the projects were identified under the American Samoa Marine Conservation Plan and are funded by the Sustainable Fisheries Fund, established under a provision of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
It was revealed during a Senate committee hearing early last month that these two projects are scheduled to be dedicated next month and officials of the Honolulu-based Council will take part in the ceremony.
The Council is hosting its 156th meeting here in the territory around the same time of the dedication next month.
Responding to Samoa News inquiries, Council coordinator Eric K. Kingma explained that the “Manu’a Fishermen’s Facilities” project will be dedicated March 9.
Kingma told Samoa News the ice making facilities are both equipped with ice makers capable of producing 10,000 pounds of flake ice daily. He explained that 4,500 gallon fuel storage tanks filled with gasoline for local fishing vessels were shipped to Manu'a last week.
“The fishermen's facilities will provide consistent access to fuel and ice for local Manu'a fishermen and Co-Op members, serving to support fisheries development and enhance local food security,” he said.
Kingma said two fishermen's cooperatives were formed and incorporated in 2011 — Tai Samasama on Ta’u island, and Faleluaanuu (Ofu/Olosega islands) — which will ultimately run the fishery facilities.
“The Council is currently contracting the two managers of the respective facilities, but will transfer managerial responsibilities of the respective facilities to the two Co-Ops in mid-2013,” Kingma said from Honolulu last Friday.
He said the Council's American Samoa Fisheries Development Coordinator, Mr. Ueta Faasili, is currently working closely with the Manu’a Co-Op members on these two projects.
According to new submissions last July by former Lt. Gov. Faoa Aitofele Sunia regarding the American Samoa Conservation Plan, there are 24 members of the Tai Samasama Co-op of which 50% are without fishing boats.
The Faleluaanuu Co-Op has 15 members with 9 of them without boats. Faoa provided this information as part of the government’s proposals for fisheries development in Manu’a to assist the two Co-Ops in acquiring fishing boats for the Manu’a fishermen.
For the next phase of fishery development in Manu’a, the Council is working with the Co-Ops to procure suitable cold storage containers as options to get their catches off Manu’a and into the Tutuila market; or, if high enough quality, export the catches to offshore markets.
He said they are working with Samoa Tuna Processors (TriMarine) on this phase.
“If Manu'a fishermen begin landing quality catches in exportable quantities, the fuel/ice/cold storage facilities will support economic opportunities that otherwise might not have existed or would be logistically challenging,” he added.
In addition to Manu’a fishery development, the Council also funded the construction of two boat ramps on Tutuila, one in Fagaalu and another at the Lions Park.
The projects in Manu’a and Tutuila were funded with monies from the Western Pacific Sustainable Fisheries, which are derived from fines and penalties from foreign fishing violations in the US Pacific Remote Island Areas, such as Howland and Baker Islands, and Jarvis Island.
Kingma said the funds are deposited into the fund to support projects listed in the Marine Conservation Plans of American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.
The Council is also funding:
• The construction of a small vessel dock fronting the Samoa Tuna Processors (STP) cannery facility, which will enhance the ability of 'alia and other small vessels to deliver fish to the STP facility; and,
• The potential redesign of the Fagatogo fish market to make it into a more modern retail facility.
Read tomorrow’s edition of the Samoa News on issues that Kingma says the Council staff would like to discuss with local fishermen while in the territory for the 156th Council meeting at the Governor H. Rex Lee Auditorium.