Concerns over short time for comments on fishery regulation
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Concerns have been voiced with the US National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) over the short period of time for public comments on a major proposed rule making, covering several aspects of fisheries, and a Florida based fishery company says many people in American Samoa are not aware of the proposed rule.
The proposed rule, if implemented, “will have consequences affecting American Samoa,” said Larry DaRosa, fleet manager of Tradition Marine LLC, owner and operator of purse seine vessels. “Most people I have spoken to there are not even aware of this proposed regulation. Many U.S. citizens have businesses based in American Samoa and have not had sufficient time to understand and comment on this new proposal by NMFS.”
The federal agency’s proposed rule was published May 10th with May 25th being the last day to accept public comments. DaRosa argued that the 15 days given to the public is “totally insufficient to comment on such a complicated and potentially disastrous regulation”. At least three other owners/operators of US purse seiners who have submitted comments have voiced similar concerns.
Among the many provisions of the proposed rule making is setting separate limitations on fishing days for the purse seiner fleet to fish in the US exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and on the high seas areas known as the Effort Limit Area for Purse Seine (ELAPS).
NMFS also outlined how it will allocate the additional 100 fishing days for the US purse seiner fleet fishing in the region to help American Samoa’s economy and its tuna canneries.
In his May 23rd comment letter, DaRosa argued that any regulation affecting the High Seas is very important to all U.S. vessels “but will also have an impact on the American Samoa economy because of the tuna cannery and tuna industry related businesses based there.”
He noted that 80% of the territory's economy is dependent on the product supplied by the U.S. tuna fleet to the StarKist tuna cannery.
Details of the proposed rule making are found at www.regulations.gov, which has released more public comments.