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Report looks at impact of COVID on Am Samoa fisheries and the cannery

Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council logo

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Updates on island fisheries as well as the tuna industry and COVID-19 impacts, are two main subjects covered in a brief “American Samoa Island Report” for the 187th Meeting of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, set to be held virtually from Sept. 21 to 24th.

Prepared by Council staff, the section of the report on island fisheries update, states that two alias that have been fishing in July and August have reported catching albacore, yellowfin, and skipjack, although sparse.

“There have been reports of an abundance of skipjack in Western Samoa, but there are very few catches of skipjack in the territory,” it says. “Also small vessel fishermen have reported that there are no catches of masimasi, wahoo, and rainbow runners.”

The report points out that weather has also been an issue since the last Council Meeting was held this past March. “Rough seas and high winds have limited fishing trips for many fishermen,” it says.

For the tuna industry and COVID-19 impacts update, the report says StarKist Samoa has brought over 93 workers from Samoa since June after approval by the governor for the cannery hiring workers from the independent. (Samoa News notes that the hiring is made under the local Guest Worker Permit law. )

The report explains that StarKist Samoa has experienced workforce shortages in the last quarter since the release of federal Economic Impact Payments earlier in the year.

Additionally, the cannery is aiming to bring in more than 200 workers from Samoa to fill labor shortages at the tuna processing plant.

“Due to the scheduled commercial flights between Pago Pago and Honolulu in September, flights between Western Samoa and American Samoa have been suspended,” it says. “StarKist Samoa is working closely with the American Samoa Government to bring over the remaining workers needed to fill vacancies.”

 This report and reports on the agenda of the meeting, are posted on the Council’s website [].