7 Jun 2004

Samoa's government looks to help fishermen hit by poor catches

7:23 am on 7 June 2004

The Samoan government has appointed a committee to study the effect on fishermen of low catches with a view to suspending interest payments to those with loans at the Development Bank of Samoa.

The Deputy Prime Minister Misa Telefoni said fresh fish is Samoa's top export and that's why the government has stepped in to help the struggling industry.

Mr Telefoni said that the industry provided over 60% of exports over the past two years, and played a substantial role in economic development.

But it declined by 10% last year compared to 2002 figures, with exports down by over half a million US dollars at almost 15 million dollars, and he said, that figure is likely to decline more.

Crew of the bigger boats say they are having to stay at sea for longer periods, while many fisherman don't go out at all as they say it's not worth their while.