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Tri Marine denies “most of the gear” at its STP facility is gone

[SN file photo]
Says equipment is there, as they continue to explore options to reopen the facility

Tri Marine International has dismissed a public claim that “most of the gear” at its Samoa Tuna Processors Inc. facility in American Samoa is gone, saying the plant remains fully equipped.

Tri Marine’s operations in American Samoa came up on Tuesday, during day-one of the three-day meeting in Honolulu of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, when there was an inquiry from a Council member on the status of Tri Marine’s exemption request made in 2015 to the US National Marine Fisheries Service.

Tri Marine’s cannery in Pago Pago was shut down last December and Council Executive Director Kitty Simonds has said, “I don’t think Tri Marine has any intention of returning. Most of their gear, whatever they have in there, it's all gone.”

(The Council’s meeting is streamed live online and this is how Samoa News has been providing coverage of the meeting, which concluded yesterday.)

Tri Marine released to Samoa News yesterday morning a statement responding to the quote “most of the gear” is gone, and requested a correction of the story.

Based on a statement from company spokesman Mark Fox, “Samoa Tuna Processors has been closed for almost six months, and we continue to explore options for the cannery, including some form of arrangement with another operator — or the reopening of the facility by Tri Marine.”

“The facility remains fully equipped and in working condition, so that the cannery is in the best position to resume operations.” 

The Samoa News story, citing the quote from Simonds, garnered harsh reactions and comments from at least three people in the industry — both local and off island — who claim to have inside knowledge of the STP facility and dismissed the claim that “most of the gear” is gone.

One of the individuals, who directed their criticism at Samoa News, and not at Simonds, who made the statement at the Council meeting, said the facility remains “fully equipped and the public allegation that most of the gear is gone is just ‘fake news’.”

A senior ASG official, who contacted Samoa News on Wednesday night about the same story, said that “as far as I’m concerned, all of the equipment and ‘gear’ at the STP facility are still there,” as the company works on finding a solution to reopen the facility. The ASG official said there has been no new update from Tri Marine on plans to reopen the facility, “but the government continues to look at ways to help Tri Marine” achieve such a goal.

Former STP employees have told Samoa News that they are still hoping the cannery will reopen either under a new company or Tri Marine itself. Several former employees have kept in contact with Samoa News to check on a status of whether the STP cannery will reopen and if so, when.

“While some of us have found new jobs, many of are still hoping for STP to reopen. At least it will provide jobs,” said one former female employee, who has kept in touch with Samoa News since last December and also keeps in contact with her former colleagues at STP. “Working at STP was great and hopefully they’ll reopen soon, very soon.”

Tri Marine last December closed down STP cannery operations, laying-off some 700 workers. The STP facility remains open with a limited number of personnel - about 100 - to carry out other company operations.