13 Feb 2014

American Samoa longline fishers told waiver clearance request rejected

8:20 am on 13 February 2014

The American Samoa governor, Lolo Matalasi Moliga, has decided not to waive required clearance for locally based longline fishing fleet fishing in the territory's exclusive economic zone.

All fishing vessels arriving into American Samoa are subject to Immigration, Customs, health, public safety and agriculture clearances.

Lolo says the longline fleets had asked the local government to eliminate certain clearances because Tautai fish within the territory's exclusive economic zone and never leave American Samoa or U.S. waters.

He says the government cannot grant this request because some Tautai vessels fish in waters that are over 50 miles away from the territory.

And he says it's imperative the government conduct these clearances to ensure that these vessels are not used to smuggle illegal immigrants, contraband or other unlawful items into the territory.

However, to alleviate any inconvenience caused by these inspections, Lolo will consider proposals to issue a single surcharge to cover all clearances conducted by government agencies upon arrival of Tautai vessels.

Last month, about 20 longline fishing boats were put up for sale because their owners said they found it difficult to survive in the face of falling fish prices, competition from subsidised Chinese fishing boats, and high fuel prices.