17 Sep 2013

Samoa Fisheries Division denies talks with China

2:51 pm on 17 September 2013

Samoa's Fisheries Division says claims it is in talks with China to allow subsidised fishing vessels into Samoa's Exclusive Economic Zone are untrue and insulting.

The managing director of Apia Export Fish Packers, John Luff, made the claim in a letter to the editor in the Samoa Observer, saying he learned about the negotiations through an industry member who has government connections.

But the acting CEO for the Fisheries Division, Joyce Samuelu Ah-Leong, says there is no truth to the claims whatsoever.

She says it has not been approached by a Chinese company nor is it having any talks about fishing licences for foreign vessels.

She says the Fisheries Act prohibits the issuing of such licences, and the Fisheries Management Bill, which is about to be passed, further strengthens that prohibition.

"The intention is to ensure that our fish stocks can sustain the current fishing efforts. The claim of allowing subsidised Chinese fishing vessels is very much against that. And it's also an insult to question Fisheries' honesty and intention given every intention by the Fisheries, that is government."

Joyce Samuelu Ah-Leong says she has no idea where such claims would have come from.