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Tri Marine sells global tuna supply operations— Does not involve American Samoa and STP

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Tri Marine International’s operation in American Samoa is not included in the company’s sale of its global tuna supply business to longtime partner, Bolton Group — one of the main players in the international consumer goods market product sector.

In a press release last Saturday, Bellevue, Washington-based Tri Marine announced that the company has agreed to sell its global tuna supply operations to Bolton, which has held significant minority interest in the Tri Marine global business since 2013.

“With this transaction Bolton Group now owns 100 percent of Tri Marine’s tuna supply chain business. The parties have agreed not to disclose the terms of the transaction,” said the statement, which didn’t provide details on Tri Marine’s operations in the territory.

Some fish industry online news outlets quickly picked up the story. And it started to raise concerns amongst some in American Samoa — where Tri Marine operates the Samoa Tuna Processors (STP) Inc., facility in Atu’u, of which a large part was leased to StarKist Inc., for StarKist Samoa operations, last year.

The Atu’u facility sits on government land, leased by Tri Marine, which shut down its cannery operation more than 2 years ago.

Responding to Samoa News questions over the weekend, Tri Marine spokesperson Brie Adderley said yesterday morning that the company’s “sale of its tuna supply chain business to Bolton does not involve STP.”

“The STP facility has been leased to StarKist and is fully under the control and management of StarKist,” said Adderley, who reiterated that the “sale to Bolton does not impact STP or the lease to Starkist in any way.”

Samoa News asked about Tri Marine’s sale price of its tuna supply operation, and Adderley responded, “Due to confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements, Tri Marine did not disclose the Bolton deal to anyone, including the American Samoa Government, prior to closing.” However, “Tri Marine informed the Chairman of the Governor's Fisheries Task Force as soon as the transaction was concluded.”

Asked about other Tri Marine operations in the territory, Adderley said, “Bolton is not acquiring” Tri Marine Fishing Management, Samoa Fishing Management, or Cape Fisheries fleet of vessels.

“Samoa Fishing Management will continue its operations in American Samoa and the Cape Fleet will continue to operate out of Pago Pago,” Adderley explained. “Samoa Fishing Management, the Cape Fleet and STP will continue to employ American Samoans as needed.”

Speaking on background information, ASG officials told Samoa News over the weekend that Tri Marine was to inform ASG — in accordance with the lease of the Atu’u land — if the STP facility will be sold. Additionally, Tri Marine also has a Tax Exemption which cannot be transferred to a new owner without prior ASG approval.

The officials were concerned that the sale to Bolton might impact the StarKist lease of the STP facility and therefore would “affect continued operation of StarKist Samoa.”