25 Mar 2014

American Samoa longline fishing fleet given a lifeline

7:25 pm on 25 March 2014

The owner of a longline fishing fleet in American Samoa says a proposal which could allow large vessels a greater area to fish, would mean the business can survive another year.

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council made the recommendation for staff to work with the National Marine Fisheries Service and local government in exploring options for a possible one year, limited entry program for larger vessels.

The proposed modification would reduce the northern boundary of the large vessel prohibited area around Tutuila, the Manu'as, and Rose Atoll from 50 nautical miles to 25 nautical miles and around Swains to 12 nautical miles.
Local owner Carlos Sanchez says the change would allow them more time to fish, as well as save costs on fuel consumption, and they are very appreciative to the council for its plans.

"They save us, they are trying to make us survive which is all we can ask. We were completely dead, all the fleet was tied up, we have now out of 18 boats, 8 boats are operating, and we hope by next month about 12 boats will be operating."

Carlos Sanchez says local operators still feel they have been abandoned by the government, but with the help of the council he is trying to diversify his business in order to survive.