The US National Marine Fisheries Service has approved a recommendation to allow US registered long liners based in Pago Pago to fish in the Large Vessel Protected Area in American Samoa waters.
The recommendation was made last year by the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council and was strongly objected to by American Samoa leaders including the Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga who argued that the protected area is preserved for locally owned alia or small fishing boats.
In its decision released today, the National Marine Fisheries Service said approving this action is intended to improve the efficiency and economic viability of the American Samoa long line fleet, while ensuring that fishing by the long line and small vessel fleets remains sustainable on an ongoing basis.
The Service will annually review the effects of this final rule on catch rates, small vessel participation, and sustainable fisheries development initiatives.
Any future changes would be subject to additional environmental review and opportunity for public review and comment.
The American Samoa longline fishery contributed between $US7.2 million and $US13.7 million to the American Samoa economy between 2003 and 2013 according to the US National Marine Fisheries Service.
The primary source of the fishery's economic contributions to the territory was from sales of fish to the two canneries in Pago Pago.