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StarKist has brought in 150 ‘guest workers’ from Samoa so far

StarKist employees at gate

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — StarKist Samoa has brought over 150 workers from Samoa since the territory’s governor approved the hiring of guest workers from Apia in June, according to the latest update of the American Samoa Motu Lipoti — Island Report — prepared for the 187th Meeting of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council which ends today.

The report was prepared by Council staff for the virtual meeting and provides an update on the Tuna Industry, saying that StarKist Samoa is hoping to hire more than 200 workers from Samoa to fill a labor shortage at the cannery.

Information received by Samoa News indicates that the cannery as of early this week has so far brought in about 165 workers from Samoa. ASG had approved 200 workers from Samoa and the government plans to work with the cannery to assist with any additional request for more workers.

As previously reported by Samoa News, recruiting workers from Samoa is in accordance with the local Guest Workers Permit law.

Inter Samoa flights were suspended on Sept. 17th after territorial officials identified the first-confirmed COVID-19 case of a local resident — a border case — who returned to the territory on the Sept. 13th flight from Honolulu.

Health director Motusa Tuileama Nua said during a news conference on Tuesday this week that the inter-Samoa flights resumed this week, with two flights — on Wednesdays and Fridays. This previous Friday's flight was postponed to this coming week due to the current two-day lock down in Samoa for that country’s mass COVID-19 vaccination drive.

Meanwhile the Island Report also provided updates on “Island Fisheries” saying that since April 2021, the lone Pago Pago-based commercial bottom-fishing alia is down due to engine issues, leaving just two alia active in commercial fishing at this time — one trolling and one long-lining.

All other local fishing activity involves bottom-fishing and trolling trips for personal and/or cultural reasons. About 4 Pago Pago-based small-boats engage in trolling, with occasional bottom-fishing, inside territorial waters.

Only about 3 Manu'a-based alia (2 from Ofu and 1 from Ta'u) are currently active, at least once a week, in bottom-fishing exclusively. Gas and fishing gear shortages are an ongoing problem for fishermen in Manu’a.

The report also says that several Pago Pago-based alia remain idle due to technical or structural problems awaiting relief. Additionally, five alia owners are seeking compensation from the local government-run Shipyard Authority for its role in causing damage to many alia during dry-dock work performed in 2017. A class-action lawsuit is being heard in the High Court of American Samoa at this time. (More details on