20 Feb 2015

American Samoa longliners face crisis

7:02 am on 20 February 2015

A longline fishing association in American Samoa says it has asked to fish in a protected zone because it is trying to address the economic crisis local owners are facing.

The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council expects to consider the Tautai o Samoa Longline and Fishing Association's request to fish in the 50 nautical miles Large Vessel Protected Area next month.

It's president, Christina Lutu-Sanchez, says local longline owners have been operating at a loss for years due to low fish prices, a low catch rate and the rising cost of operations.

She says asking to fish in the protected area on a one year trial basis is an effort to address this.

"So it's an attempt to survive, to access it to see if it will help the situation. It doesn't guarantee that it will, but it is an effort to see what will happen. It's a trial basis."

Christina Lutu-Sanchez has also asked the federal government to declare an economic disaster for the U.S longline fishing fleet in American Samoa.