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StarKist pleased to sign MOU with local government

StarKist Co. spokesperson Mary Sestric says the Pittsburgh-based company is “pleased to have signed” a Memorandum of Understanding with the American Samoa government regarding land to be used for a cold storage facility.

“The structure is “critically needed for StarKist operations in American Samoa,” Sestric said yesterday responding to Samoa News questions. “We look forward to working with the Governor and the American Samoa Government to finalize the details of this agreement soon.”

The 42,000 square foot parcel of land for construction of the facility lies directly between the Port Administration building and the inter-island dock, according to the governor’s office, but didn’t provide any other details such as funding for the cold storage facility.

Togiola on his radio program in early October said his administration is working on building a multi-million dollar freezer storage facility to provide fish storage space for not only the canneries but the local fishing fleet, which is part of the government’s commitment to assist the canneries in the territory.

According to the governor, the administration was to submit a funding application to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The MOU was signed Monday afternoon after meetings between the governor and his staffers and StarKist president and chief executive officer In-Soo Cho and Dongwon Industries board chairman Jae-chul Kim. This major achievement in cooperation between the company and ASG caps the StarKist board meeting held last week in the territory.

 “StarKist would like to take the opportunity to thank the Governor and the people of American Samoa for their generous hospitality while the StarKist Board of Directors and executive team were on island last week,” Sestric said via e-mail from Pittsburgh. “We appreciate the renewed support our team received from the American Samoa government, business partners and the community as a whole.”

“We look forward to ongoing partnership with American Samoa and its leaders in working to restore the island to its position as a globally competitive tuna processor, for the mutual benefit of StarKist and American Samoa,” she said.

Kim emphasized to reporters last week the importance of continuous collaborative efforts between StarKist  and the territorial government as well as the local community in order for American Samoa be more competitive in the global tuna processing industry.

As noted by Samoa News in its story on Monday, some public comments have began to come to light, with environmental concerns about the site being their main focus.