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Foreign Built Seiners Can’t Fish In Samoa EEZ

Faleomavaega also responded last night to continued reports by local media regarding the governor’s staunch opposition to an initiative which would allow foreign-built tuna boats to fish in American Samoa’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

“I want to once more state that there is no such initiative pending in Congress nor has there been since last year. This is a dead issue. Any information being put forward to the contrary is false,” he said.

“To be clear, the new boats added to the U.S. fishing fleet are U.S. majority-owned boats and they all fly the U.S. flag,” he said. “Even though these boats are U.S. boats, at no time have these boats fished in American Samoa’s waters, or any other U.S. EEZ.”

“While last year I supported legislation to allow these boats to fish in the U.S. EEZs for the sole purpose of supplying COS/Samoa Packing with the fish it needed to keep its cannery operational, the legislation was never enacted into law and consequently these US boats never, ever fished in American Samoa’s EEZ or any other US EEZ,” he continued.

“Also, now that COS Samoa Packing has announced it is leaving, I have not re-introduced the legislation, nor will I, because everything has changed since COS Samoa Packing will no longer be in American Samoa to purchase fish, directly or indirectly, from these boats,” he said.

“This is why I announced that I support the governor’s call for a fee to be imposed on any and all tuna boats home-ported in American Samoa, if they do not pull into port and offload fish at our canneries,” he added.

In June, the governor announced on his radio program that close to 30 vessels registered with American Samoa as their home port, while only about four or five of these vessels actually come here to unload their catch for the canneries.

Togiola said he has asked his legal staff to work on a recommendation to enforce this federal law as well as the possibility of imposing a $250,000 fee for those vessels, which have registered their home port as American Samoa.