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Togiola: Joint meetings with Tri-Marine bear great news for local economic development

Speaking on his weekend radio program, Gov. Togiola Tulafono says Tri Marine International is looking at using American Samoa as a base for its fishing fleet as well as the company’s fish stock distribution, once the cold storage freezer currently under construction in Atu’u is completed.

Togiola said Tri Marine officials, who were on island last week, provided this information as well as updates on the company’s operational status during joint meetings. Tri Marine officials included Renato Curto, the company’s Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, said Togiola.

The governor reminded listeners that Tri Marine’s operations include frozen fish for export and a cannery plant at the old COS Samoa Packing site. He said the company’s major operation at this time is the fishing fleet, and many times the fleet has delivered fish to other countries such as Thailand.

The reason for Curto’s visit, said Togiola, was to conduct a full site visit and tour of the ASG owned Ronald Reagan Marine Railway shipyard in Satala. Togiola says if Curto believes the shipyard is good, he wants to bring all of Tri Marine’s fishing vessels to be based and repaired here.

Togiola reiterated the importance of the shipyard to the economic development of the territory and the reason the government sought to return last year the shipyard to ASG.

The governor said he is very pleased with Curto’s desire to bring their vessels here and this will bring back a lot of money that was taken out of here to other countries, where vessels were being repaired. He said the shipyard had their own negotiations with Tri Marine and it appears the final decision will be a good one.

ASG Shipyard Service Authority board chairman Carlos Sanchez said last week that Curto discussed with the authority refurbishing a Tri Marine vessel in August. Additionally, Curto and Tri Marine “are willing to cooperate with us in anyway they can, and they have offered to also bring in equipment that we may not have here, for our use on their fleet and maybe on other boats too.”

On his radio program, Togiola also said that Tri Marine is continuing with the construction of its freezer facility at the Samoa Tuna Processors site in Atu’u and he has been informed that the project is close to being completed.

Togiola said he was also informed by Tri Marine that the company wants to use American Samoa as a base to off-load fish from the company’s fishing fleet as well as a base for fish distribution to other company operations worldwide, once the freezer project is fully operational.

The governor says he is very, very pleased with Tri Marine’s future plans looking at American Samoa because this will bring a major economic benefit for the territory. He said Tri Marine’s fishing fleet coming here means more local jobs, more money coming into the territory, more crew from the vessels spending their money here and the end result is a major boost to the local economy.

He said the government stands ready to provide any assistance to Tri Marine and StarKist Samoa to ensure that the two companies are successful in the territory.

Not mentioned on the radio program, was that Togiola visited the shipyard last week Monday, prior to the Tri Marine visit. Sanchez told Samoa News it was “to see the progress of our work.”

Sanchez said, “He left very pleased and impressed with what he saw — the movements in the shipyard and most especially the attitude and work ethic of the shipyard workers in a busy environment and under pressure.”

He noted that “this workforce came from nowhere with the goal of becoming a major force behind the fisheries development on our island, and despite all odds and criticism from our community including leaders, we are heading in the right direction.”

“We thank Governor Togiola solely for his vision and continued trust in the shipyard's Board of Directors, management and workers,” Sanchez concluded.