20 Jun 2014

Opposition in American Samoa to push to reduce fishing off limits

2:22 pm on 20 June 2014

Traditional leaders in American Samoa are opposing a proposal to allow longliners to fish in territorial waters that are now off limits to them.

The Council of Treaty Chiefs of Tutuila, Aunuu and Manu'a and the Council of District Governors this week signed a petition addressed to the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, opposing its plans.

The LVPA, or large vessel prohibited area, is closed to all pelagic fishing vessels longer than 15 metres.

It encompasses about a quarter of the American Samoa exclusive economic zone.

The proposal from the Management Council would shrink the northern boundary around Tutuila, Manu'a and Rose Atoll to 25 nautical miles and the LVPA around Swains to 12 nautical miles.

The petition says such a move would be in bad faith, opportunistic, and blatantly contrary to the Treaty of Cessions of Manu'a and Treaty of Tutuila and Aunu'u.

The traditional leaders say opening closed waters to allow non-beneficiary owned longliners to fish closer to the islands would undermine the interests of the beneficiaries of the Treaties.