23 Mar 2015

American Samoa longline fleet offered lifeline

8:16 am on 23 March 2015

The Tautai o Samoa Longline and Fishing Association says an exemption for longliners to fish in protected American Samoan waters will help the local fleet survive.

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Photo: RNZ / Philippa Tolley

The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council voted on a proposal to amend the Large Vessel Prohibited Area to allow longliners to fish in an exempted area this week.

The vote went ahead despite the three American Samoa representatives asking that the vote be postponed, a request also made by Governor Lolo Moliga.

The President of the Tautai o Samoa Longline and Fishing Association, Christina Lutu Sanchez, says she's thankful the council has recognised the crisis the local longline fleet is in.

"They never stopped looking for ways to make sure that we don't disappear off the face of the earth, as this is the last US longline albacore fleet. We just hung onto that last thread."

Christina Lutu Sanchez says the exemption is not a guarantee for survival, but it will help them operate more efficiently.