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American Samoa’s biggest employer StarKist opposes potential expansion of fishery closures

American Samoa’s biggest employer StarKist is rallying behind Governor Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga, over the potential expansion of fishery closures through the designation of a marine sanctuary in the U.S. Pacific Remote Island Areas' full economic exclusive zones (EEZ).

In doing so the company Managers and staff will be protesting to voice their concern against the potential expansion at a public hearing scheduled on Wednesday.

Officials of StarKist Samoa which employs about 1600 people are attending the public hearing at the Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center.

This was confirmed by one of StarKist's managers to your KVZK news.

A StarKist official says the potential expansion will have a huge impact on the local tuna economy of American Samoa and deprive the U.S. Pacific Territories of economic development opportunities, which are essential for their survival.

Lemanu along with Governors of Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands have penned their concerns in a joint letter to President Biden, citing “the backbone of American Samoa’s economy depends on the viability of the StarKist cannery and supply from U.S.-flagged tuna purse seiners."

According to the Governor, the local tuna industry supports 5,000 jobs in the territory with an estimated workforce of 18,000 people and fisheries are the leading source of economic development that binds us to our neighboring Pacific Island nations.

Further closures would be in direct conflict with your Administration's Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and counter to principles of equity and environmental justice."

The Governors emphasized the negative impact the closures would have on their already disadvantaged and marginalized communities.

American Samoa NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries public scoping meetings are for the proposed designation of a National Marine Sanctuary for the Pacific Remote Islands.

Sanctuary designation would allow NOAA to augment the existing protections for the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument with additional regulatory and non-regulatory tools, and to conserve additional areas outside the monument's existing boundary.

The proposed sanctuary would not include terrestrial areas or diminish the protections of the existing monument designations.

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