US fishing companies want federal study on industry
A fishing company operating in American Samoa is calling for the United States to intiate a federal study into the economic impacts of new rules that are devastating the industry.
A fishing company operating in American Samoa is calling for the United States to initiate a federal study into the economic impacts of new rules that are devastating the industry.
A partner of the largest US flagged tuna fleet operating in the Western Pacific says recent actions by the United States government are not affecting the canneries but are causing the demise of fishing operators.
Ocean Global and Sea Global's Doug Hines, spoke with Bridget Grace.
Doug Hines: There's been continual discussions with regards to operations and Pago Pago having a lack of fish to resource. We arranged so that we had three of our boats were going in there, then we got the word we'd have to sit in line for four to six to eight weeks until we could discharge. The boats, the canneries had the fish, primarily the Dongwon cannery had fish all the way up until the end of the year. They had recently received two carriers of their own fish that came in to port. It was fish that was caught, some of it off the eastern high seas as well. The high sea pockets that we were not allowed access into but they were. And Dongwon and Starkist on the island do resource fish from local vessels as well that come in there. But when we hear there's going to be a shortage of fish, of course we've made a commitment years ago as a fleet, that we would always support Samoa, so we came in, there's just no spots for any of us to discharge.
BG: Why are you calling for a federal investigation?
DH: What we're calling for is for the feds to do a study to determine if their recent actions were creating a shortage of fish so the canneries could not operate. And that the recent activity does not impact the canneries but it impacts dramatically the fishing vessels, that work in the western Pacific under US flag. And take a look not just at the impact on the cannery, but also take a look at the impact on the US fishery and the fleet as well. Because we're the ones that are going down, the fishing industry is going down, while the canneries continue to post very good profits.
BG: When you're mentioning recent activities that have been detrimentally affecting fishing, what activities are you meaning?
DH: In the WCPFC (Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission) convention what they did, the US agreed that they would reduce the number of days that the US vessels have access under the high seas, which has always been a traditional fishing ground for us, in the eastern high sea pockets. And what was given too in turn was they gave to the PIPs (Pacific Island Parties) access to these fishing grounds under their national flags. And so the days that we gave up, that we cannot fish in those areas, we had to fish in distant waters as well, so our costs were just screaming up and we were not successful. So when I say what is occurring, this is the first year that we have not had access to our fishing grounds.
BG: What your hoping is that the Western and Central Pacific Fishery Commission would make changes in that regard, to the days and access?
DH: What I'm hopeful for is that the US government is going to take a look at how they can assist, not just take a look at what happens with the canneries. But also take a look at what is happening with the US owned vessels, in the fishing industry which has traditionally supported the regions that are operating.
BG: What are the negative impacts that you're seeing?
DH: The overfishing in the region, the overcapacity that's been allowed to come into the region. And so the traditional operators as well as the traditional fishing grounds are not as accessible. And we can't operate efficiently and therefore we can't in the long term, there's no way to sustain an operation.
BG: Do you know how likely it is that changes will occur?
DH: I can tell you that if changes aren't addressed then there won't be a fishing industry as we see it today. Drastic changes need to be addressed, not just the band-aids that have been put on in the past years. I've been in this industry since 1979 and I've never seen it more disastrous for the fishing operation.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: