17 Mar 2015

Proposal to give American Samoan fishing boats an exemption

4:29 pm on 17 March 2015

The Governor of American Samoa has called proposed exceptions to fishing rules an 'invasion of American Samoa's 50-mile zone'.

The US Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council has heard from its scientists, who say 16,817 square nautical miles should be opened up to American Samoa longline vessels of 50 feet or greater.

Pago Pago Harbour, American Samoa

Pago Pago Harbour, American Samoa Photo: AFP / Michael Runkel / Robert Harding Premium

The council is looking at a one-year exemption to alleviate economic hardship, as the additional fishing grounds are closer to shore and will reduce trip costs.

But Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga says the council should let the territory make its own decisions.

The alia boats, under 40 feet, have said they don't want bigger boats competing in waters close to shore.

The council and its scientists say the proposed exemptions would not cause overfishing of endangered species in those waters.