Samoan News, Tala Samoa
CDC issues Samoa chikungunya warning
The United States health agency, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, has issued a warning to travellers about the threat in Samoa from chikungunya.
Earlier this week the Samoa Ministry of Health said the mosquito borne disease is now affecting all of the country.
It says there are more than 2,500 confirmed cases.
The CDC says for the first time, chikungunya is being locally transmitted in Samoa.
It says travellers to Samoa, especially those with underlying medical conditions, should take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
Samoa's Ministry of Health says the whole of Samoa is now affected by chikungunya.
Tuliau Dr Seine Vaai-Nielsen Tuliau she says there are more than 2,500 confirmed cases, not counting the unreported ones.
Our correspondent in Samoa, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia, told Moera Tuilaepa-Taylor, chikungunya is now an issue in all of Samoa.
AUTAGAVAIA TIPI AUTAGAVAIA: Yes, looking at the districts, the whole of Samoa has been affected by chikungunya. The Ministry of Health has released the latest figures and also with more advisories for the public to continue on the safety measures from the chikungunya because the number of people affected from October to November has increased to 259, and the total so far as of July, according to Ministry of Health figures is over 2,500 people with chikungunya. The National Health Services and the Ministry of Health in an email said the reason why these figures were released, and also a call for public to continue on with safety measures was because people stopped listening to advisories following the UN SIDs conference. But there are concerns the rainy season is now here and Health officials are worried that will mean an increase in areas in where mosquitoes can breed.
MOERA TUILAEPA-TAYLOR: I was wondering where to Autagavaia? The Minister of Health says there are more than 2500 confirmed cases of chikungunya. I guess there are concerns about people who have not reported they have
chikungunya as well.
ATA: Yes, that's true, there's a lot of unreported cases of chikungunya, speaking of my own family, my wife's niece got chikungunya, she was taken to hospital and she was given prescriptions, panadol and was also advised to rest, and after that it was my daughter, son and wife, those 3 cases were not taken to hospital for records but three of them treated at home because now we know chikungunya can be treated easily.
MTT: I suppose the Ministry of Health also raised concerns that people with other illnesses or the elderly, pregnant women, young children, they might be affected more by chikungunya.
ATA: Yes because looking also at the figures of these people who have been affected, there's a lot of young people and children, and now a number of adults are also increasing. So I think that's where the concern from the Minstry comes from.
New American Samoa cannery opens in January
US-based Tri Marine International has confirmed that its multi-million dollar cannery plant in American Samoa is schedule to begin operations in January.
The company says that it's in the final phase of its four-year, 70 million US dollar rebuilding and expansion of what will be one of the industry's most state-of-the-art tuna processing facilities.
According to Tri Marine, the inauguration is planned for January 10th.
Tri Marine says the facility is anticipated to create 1,500 jobs when running at full capacity, with the ability to process the equivalent of more than one million cans of tuna daily.
Tri Marine chief executive officer, Renato Curto, says the new plant will enable US buyers to purchase high-quality tuna from US flagged vessels, processed in the US.
He says not only does this mean the products will be duty free coming into the US, but for those companies and organizations where 'Made in the USA' is an important distinction, Tri Marine can fulfill those needs.
Samoan PM lashes out at rugby players
By Michael Field
Samoa's prime minister says his nation's Manu Samoa players are being childish and they have to decide whether they want to play for money or country.
"If they don't want to play, then don't come," Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele said in what news website Talamua described as an agitated national broadcast.
"There are many players here who are looking for an opportunity."
He abused them for "foolish thinking" and said he had written them letters "addressing them as a father would to kids who don't understand."
He pointedly said his letters had been bilingual as there were players who did not understand Samoan.
Tuilaepa, who is also chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union, reacted angrily to a threatened boycott by Samoan players ahead of this weekend's England match at Twickenham.
Earlier this week the players threatened to go on strike saying they were not getting enough money.
The strike was averted when the International Rugby Board intervened to set up talks between the Samoa Rugby Union and the International Rugby Players' Association to facilitate urgent and collaborative resolution.
But Tuilaepa's angry outburst suggests the players are in for a hostile reception.
"The players play and deliver good results. The union provides the funding. If money is more important to some players than playing for their country, then they should let the union know," he said.
The threat to go on strike was childish and said the players were "little kids".
He said the strike threat had been issued by "two or three boys who are nearing retirement."
He did not name the players but said they were "trouble makers" who put money before country.
"The boycott is foolish thinking."
Tuilaepa said many of the players were on professional contracts with clubs and were making a lot of money.
"And if it wasn't for Samoa, they wouldn't have been recognised," the prime minister said, the Samoa Observer reported.
"Let them be reminded that a lot of them got contracts because of the Manu Samoa. They would not have made it without Manu Samoa.
"Their bread is from professional contracts they achieved because of Manu Samoa. If they didn't play for Samoa, they wouldn't have gotten those big contracts."
He said no one was forcing the players to play for Samoa.
"So submit your resignation and we'll select new players. There are lots of players in Samoa. This thing appears to have been stirred by overseas-based players."
On the claims over Samoan officials Tuilaepa said he told the players their job was to play and it was for officials to manage the budget and find the money.
"Our job is easy if you play and win but it's hard when you keep losing.
"It's like a coin with two sides. Our side will improve if they play well. We've lost to Italy and yet we used to beat them."
Reminding the players there are more sports than rugby, Tuilaepa said it might get to a point where the government will need to divert funding to other developments and focus solely on the Manu Samoa Sevens instead of the 15s.
"We're spending millions on these things and yet there are so much more developments needed by our country."
Tuilaepa played a rugby league card.
"We haven't given Toa Samoa a lot of money and they're now ranked fourth in the world," he said.
"How long have we tried to develop the Manu Samoa and yet we have slipped back to 11th?"
American Samoa voters head to polls to decide Congressman race.
Voters in American Samoa are heading to the polls today.
Polls on Tutuila, Aunuu and Manu'a were opened at six this morning, after ballot boxes were delivered under police escort.
Voters will cast ballots for members of the American Samoa House of Representatives, a delegate to Congress and a referendum to give the legislature the power to override the governor's veto of legislation.
A noticeable difference on this election day will be the absence of the smoke and smell of BBQs near polling places, as giving free food on election day has now been banned.
A total of 16,776 voters have registered for this election, a 6% drop over the number that registered for the 2012 elections.
Historically voter turnout is lower when gubernatorial candidates are not on the ballot and wet weather may also be a factor in this year's election.
With nine candidates, this year's congressional election will have its biggest field since the territory began sending a non voting delegate to Congress.
Incumbent congressman Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin is being challenged by Aumua Amata, Paepatele Mapu Jamias, Mark Ude, Meleagi Suitonu Chapman, Rosie Fualaau Tago Lancaster, Togiola Tulafono, Tuaau Kereti Matautia Jr. and Tuika Tuika.
The candidate with the most votes will be the winner.
Media Council Government funding shouldn't affect objectivity says Samoan Prime Minister
APIA, Samoa --- Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has made it clear in parliament Friday that the media remains independent despite likely Government funding to assist the Council establish itself in its initial phase of its their work.
However, Opposition Leader Palusalue Faapo 11 firmly believes the media’s independence will be jeopardized because of this financial assistance.
The issue raised concerns amongst some Parliamentarians; however, they changed their views after clarification by the Prime Minister who tabled the Media Council Bill.
Using the Opposition Party Tautua Samoa as an example, Tuilaepa said the financial assistance given to the Media Council is the same as the financial assistance given to Tautua Samoa.
Directing the question to Palusalue, Tuilaepa asked if he (Palusalue) has succumbed to the wishes of the Government.
He reminded Palusalue that as a former Minister for Communications and the media, he should know about these things.
“There are other councils and organisations funded by the government but it has not changed their negative opinions and criticisms of the Government.
Tuilaepa said Government has previously been asked and give its support to the local media when it hosted international conferences in Samoa because it did not have the financial backing to do these things well.
“But has that changed the negative criticisms of Government by the media?” he asked.
Meanwhile, former District Court Judge Lefau Harry Schuster has commended the Journalist Association of Samoa (JAWS) for setting up a Media Council as a statutory body.
In an interview with Talamua, Lefau said “not many organisations in Samoa are established as statutory bodies.”
Lefau was referring to the establishment of a Media Council that will be administered by the Journalists of Samoa JAWS which is the process of being established as a legal entirty as a statutory body. The Media Council Bill has passed the second reading in parliament and is now in the committee which is to report back to parliament for the Bills third and final reading.
Established in the 1970’s, JAWS was previously registered as an Association under Ministry of Commerce Industry & Labour (MCIL). However, due to non-compliance in filing annual returns, JAWS was de-registered in 2012 on MCIL’s advice to de-register then have the association re-registered as a new association.
Following a year-long lapse and without a clear explanation from MCIL, the association was written into the Bill that will now establish a Media Council. JAWS will be along the same status as a few other legal entities such as the Samoa Law Society, the Accountants Society and the Doctors Association.
“As a statutory body, there are rules and regulations that guide and protect the media,” said Lefau.
“You can’t get that protection being registered as an association with MCIL,” said Lefau.
He said the Media Council Bill is good for the media.
When it becomes law, the Media Council Bill has a complaints procedure and mechanism to deal with complaints from the general public against the media.
The Council also has the potential to assist in the professional development of the media.
Member of Parliament (MP) for Faleata West Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi said JAWS should be a separate entity from the Media Council.
He believes since the Council is now a legislated body, JAWs freedom of expression could be affected.
However, Lefau said the Bill is very clear on the distinct roles to be played by JAWS as the professional body and the Council as the regulatory body for the media and its work.
During the wide consultations to set up the Media Council and the Bill that now establishes the media body JAWS as a statutory body, senior media practitioners suggested that the Government to provide initial funding for the Council to set up and funding to be phased out over a period of time when the council should be self-sustaining.
The Media Council Bill is now with the Select Parliamentary Committee for further scrutiny and for public submissions then it reports back to Parliament for the third and final reading.
New Electric Substation in Tuanaimato opens
The Prime Minister and Cabinet officially opened the Fuluasou Substation and SCADA System at Tuanaimato on Friday 17 October 2014.
As part of the Power Sector Expansion Project – with funding from the Asian Development Bank, AUSAID and JICA - the opening of the Substation and SCADA System heralds a new era of energy management for the Electric Power Corporation in Samoa.
The Fuluasou Substation was built over 14 months, by Northpower Ltd of New Zealand. The contract included a new building; two power transformers and switchgears to interconnect Fiaga and Tanugamanono Power Stations; switchgears to distribute electricity and a standby generator.
The installation of new Substation means lengthy and overloaded distribution lines (sourced all the way from Tanugamanono) are able to be split in to several, shorter, more reliable distribution feeders. This means that electricity for some villages on the far western side of Upolu are now sourced directly from Fiaga while power for parts of Apia and the rest of the western areas of Upolu are now sourced from Fuluasou.
The new substation also ensures a dedicated and direct power distribution line to businesses and factories in the Vaitele Industrial Zone; whilst on the receiving end, it is also connected to the solar farm at Tuanaimato Racecourse via a dedicated pure transmission line.
During the dry season, electricity will be generated from Fiaga and transmitted to Tanugamanono via Fuluasou, and then distributed to the eastern parts of Upolu.
During the rainy season, electricity will be generated from hydro-power plants on the eastern side of Upolu, and then transmitted via Tanugamanono to Fuluasou where the power will be distributed to the western parts of Upolu.
The contract value for the Fuluasou Substation totalled SAT$14.5m.
The National Control Centre (NCC) is incorporated in to the Fuluasou Substation using the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system and took the contractor, Schneider Electric of Australia, 18 months to complete.
From this Control Centre, SCADA provides round-the-clock monitoring and control for all of EPC’s generation and key distribution sites on both main islands of Upolu and Savaii.
EPC now benefits from state-of-the-art systems providing a database upon which to maximise its operation efficiency. This means more accurate on-line data combined with an archive of historical data, allowing EPC to better forecast power generation needs, optimise relative allocations of renewable/thermal power facilities on an hour-by-hour basis, reduce reactive maintenance response time and improve preventative maintenance regimes.
Also provided under this contract, EPC now benefits from a corporate telephone system; a corporate IT network and the ability to commission CCTV systems bringing live images from key areas around the country back to Fuluasou.
The successful implementation of the SCADA system called for major communications infrastructure works, including: installation of 30km of multi-core fibre optic cable (underground in Apia area – Fiaga to Tanugamanono via Vaitele and Sogi – and overhead to some outlying areas including the Alaoa Valley); installation of high-capacity radio links to Savaii and eastern region sites; construction of 25 metre and 30 metre radio towers; UHF radio links to remote hydro supply sites.
At Salelologa, Savaii, a back-up Mini Control Centre (MCC) also operates full time, duplicating the functions of the Fuluasou NCC and provides an additional level of back-up in the event of disaster.
The contract value for SCADA totalled SAT$8.4m.
Former Samoa doctor escapes jail for stealing a bull and cow
A former prominent doctor, Le Mamea Emosi Puni, has escaped jail after being convicted for one count of stealing a bull and a cow.
The crimes carry a maximum jail sentence of seven years, but Samoa's chief justice, Patu Falefatu Sapolu instead ordered Puni to pay a fine of $450 US.
The village council of Pu'apu'a has already punished Puni for the offences, who gifted the village two cattle, 50 cartons of tinned fish, a fine mat, and a voluntary payment of $1,000 US dollars.
The judge took into account the 67 year olds age and several illnesses, as well as the penalty imposed by the village council when sentencing the Puni.
He must pay the court imposed fine within a week, or risk six months in jail.
Le Mamea Emosi Puni has previously been jailed for 12 months after being convicted of indecently assaulting a female patient who was under his care.
Samoan scholar lectures on use of English in Samoa
The use of English in Samoa today will be the focus of two lectures by Victoria University of Wellington’s 2014 Ian Gordon Fellow Letuimanu’asina Dr Emma Kruse Va’ai.
Dr Va’ai will discuss the position of Samoan and English as official languages in Samoa, the contexts in which they are used and the attitudes expressed towards these languages and towards bilingualism. She will also raise issues of language policy and of cultural identity.
“Dr Va’ai’s lectures will touch on a number of issues that are important not just for her native Samoa but also more generally for the Pacific region and for us in New Zealand,” says Paul Warren, an associate professor from Victoria’s School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies. “The co-existence of more than one language is a common experience in most Pacific Island communities, both in the islands and in New Zealand.”
Dr Va’ai studied at Victoria as a New Zealand Aid scholarship student in the mid-1970s, completing a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English and Political Science. She also completed an Honours degree in English and a teaching diploma. She was a senior lecturer in the Department of English Language and Literature at the National University of Samoa before becoming the University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor. She maintains a strong interest in linguistics, particularly in the use of language in bilingual Samoa. Her book,Producing the Text of Culture, documents the appropriation and use of English in various domains in contemporary Samoa. Dr Va’ai has also published poems and short stories for young adults and children.
Dr Va’ai’s visit is courtesy of the Ian Gordon Fellowship. The Fellowship was established through a gift from the late Professor Ian Gordon to the Victoria University Foundation to support and promote the study of English language and linguistics at Victoria.
As well as public lectures, Dr Va’ai will be meeting with staff and students in the School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies and in Va’aomanū Pasifika, which offers programmes in Pacific Studies and Samoan Studies.
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Samoa hoping for China funds for Apia Park renovation
Samoa is hoping China will help pay for renovations to its national stadium, Apia Park.
The ground is now closed for public use and is under renovation ahead of next years historic All Blacks rugby game.
The July 2015 test is slated to be the biggest match Samoa has every hosted is expected to attract thousands of visitors.
Our correspondent Autagavaia Tipi Autagvaia says the Prime Minister and Chairman of Samoa Rugby Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegao has asked for funding from China to help alleviate the renovation costs.
Shanghai Construction Group is the company working on the site.
Autagavaia says the work will change the layout of the ground.
"According to the Prime Minister the main stadium, the sports field and the main stadium needs to be expanded because of the size of the sports field we have now, the stadium is very close to the field so it needs to be pushed back so the main sports field has a lot of space."
Our correspondent Autagavaia Tipi Autagvaia.
Medicines seized in American Samoa
The Department of Health in American Samoa has confiscated a large quantity of medication, mostly antibiotics, at the airport, port and post office.
The department's Chief Compliance Officer, Papalii Marion Fitisemanu, says the medication seized requires a doctor's prescription, but it appears they were imported to be sold over the counter.
Papalii says some of the drugs seized through the mail look to be from relatives sending their personal prescriptions to family members on island.
The health department is looking into whether some of the drugs are being sold to locals, who then on-sell them, and says it also appears the drugs are intended for the Oriental fishing fleet.
Papalii says most of the medication seized was imported by Asians, purportedly for personal use, but appears to be in quantities beyond that of personal consumption.
Under local health laws only doctors authorized by the Health Services Regulatory Board can prescribe medication.
American Samoa teacher shortage affects pupils
The Director of Education in American Samoa says children are being hurt by a continuing teacher shortage.
Vaitinasa Dr Salu Hunkin-Finau says despite a recruitment drive in neigbouring Samoa netting nine teachers, the territory is about 25 teachers short.
Vaitinasa says her department has asked for volunteers with an educational background to help fill the gaps.
She says it is not ideal.
"There's no stability in the classroom and then if you have people that are not qualified in terms of education pedagogy and the content area we're basically providing almost like a baby-sitting situation. We're not providing the quality of instruction that we would like."
Vaitinasa says for the shortage to be resolved long term she hopes the college in the territory becomes a university to help provide a pool of fully qualified teachers.
Samoan Police jail a 3 year old
Samoa's police, already in strife over the death of a New Zealander in custody, are now defending themselves after locking up a three-year-old boy.
The Samoa Observer reports that the boy was locked in a police cell with his father who had been caught driving an unregistered vehicle.
The paper published a photo of the boy in the cell.
The man, who was not named by the Observer, said police had every right to detain him, he found it unacceptable that he was thrown into a police cell with his son.
"They then took me with my three-year-old son to their office at Apia at nearly twelve midday. Within minutes, we were thrown straight into the cell."
He said the officer did not pay any attention to him.
"My heart was beating that fast. My heart was melting when I looked at my son inside the cell."
His son was crying, and said that he was very hot so he took off his shirt.
"I was crying from the inside while I still looked at my son at the same time sitting and standing in a cell. My son said that he was scared but I told him that everything was going to be all right."
Acting Police Commissioner, Fauono Talalelei Tapu said the officers were within their rights to lock up the father.
"But for the child's case, the police should have called a relative to pick up the child," Fauono.
"However, the only time that the child is to be put inside if the father insists on taking his son home or if the son is crying to stay with his father."
This incident follows the death of Auckland man Hans Dalton, 28, on Christmas Day 2012 inside a Tafa'igata prison cell.
His body was found upside down in a water barrel and his death was initially ruled a suicide.
A mentally ill man, he had been on holiday in Samoa when he was caught in a hurricane and lost access to medication.
His death was treated as suicide by the Samoan police but a commission of inquiry chaired by ombudsman Maiava Iulai Toma found a series of blunders and cruelties that have led to dismissals and resignations.
Maiava wrote of how Dalton arrived at the prison and "mumbled to himself continuously but otherwise he was not an active threat to anyone".
Later he screamed loudly and shook the bars and punched the concrete walls.
"It is clear that the mentally ill man had kept up his loud screaming and occasional swearing throughout the night."
He was "heard to call out 'Lisa', his wife's name to the deaf world around him".
Maiava wondered why senior officers were not involved in helping Dalton.
"How could the pitiful cries of an ill, for all intents and purposes, totally trapped human being yearning aloud desperately for the comfort of his wife and children, not be heard in the midst of assembled police manpower poised in readiness supposedly, to keep the community safe?"
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Obama to expand ocean preserve to 6 times the size
President Barack Obama is carving out a wide swath the Pacific Ocean for an expanded marine preserve, putting the waters off-limits to drilling and most fishing in a bid to protect fragile underwater life.
The revamped expanded Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument will cover 490,000 square miles - an area roughly three times the size of California - and will become the largest marine preserve in the world. Millions of seabirds, sea turtles and marine mammals live in the bio-rich expanse included by the new monument, which will also add new protections for more than 130 “seamounts” - underwater mountains where rare or undiscovered species are frequently found.
The move to broaden the George W. Bush-era preserve comes as Obama seeks to show concrete presidential action to protect the environment, despite firm opposition in Congress to new environmental legislation. At the United Nations this week, Obama announced new U.S. commitments to help other nations deal with the effects of climate change, as world leaders seek to galvanize support for a major global climate treaty to be finalized next year in Paris.
“We hope the steps taken today by the U.S. government will accelerate similar actions by a growing list of coastal nations to protect more of the world’s great ocean treasures,” said Matt Rand, who heads the ocean program at the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Obama will sign a memorandum expanding the ocean preserve on Thursday, the White House said. Secretary of State John Kerry was also to discuss the announcement during an event Thursday on ocean sustainability in New York.
The president signaled his intent to expand the monument in June and asked for input on the final boundaries from fishermen, lawmakers and scientists. Officials said they received more than 170,000 electronic comments on the proposal.
The memorandum bans commercial fishing, deep-sea mining and other extraction of underwater resources, by recreational fishing will continue to be allowed. White House officials said they decided to allow some fishing in an attempt to preserve and encourage the public’s access to federal areas.
While a major symbolic victory for environmentalists, who long urged Obama to take this step, the designation will have limited practical implications. That’s because little fishing or drilling are taking place in the region even without the new protections.
The expansion also falls far short of what Obama could have done had he used the full extent of his powers.
Maritime law gives the U.S. control up to 200 nautical miles from the coast. Under Bush, the U.S. set aside waters extending about 50 miles from the shore of an array of U.S.-administered islands in the south-central Pacific, thousands of miles from the American mainland.
The islands sit between Hawaii and American Samoa and are divided into five regions. Obama is extending the preserve to the full 200 miles - but only for three of the five regions.
Had Obama expanded the preserve in all five regions, he could have protected more than 780,000 square miles, according to a geographic analysis by Pew.
AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed to this report.
Congressman Faleomavaega enjoys island time with Pres. Obama at White House Picnic
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that last week, September 17, 2014, he attended the White House Congressional Picnic at the invitation of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The annual summer event, which takes place on the White House South Lawn, was widely attended by Senators, Members of Congress, and their families.
“The White House Congressional Picnic presents an opportunity every year for the President, Senators and Representatives from both sides of the aisle, to come together, enjoy some good food and company, and remember that America is counting on us to work together on some of the most pressing issues facing our Nation,” Faleomavaega said.
“At this year’s picnic, I met with President Obama, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and my good friend, Chairman Frank Lucas of the House Committee on Agriculture, which has responsibility over American Samoa’s food stamp and voucher programs that I have worked on all these years to keep in place and increase our funding.”
“I want to thank President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama again for carrying on this annual tradition. So that the people of American Samoa can also feel that they were at this year’s picnic.” Faleomavaega concluded.
Wages rises no deterrent for American Samoa cannery
The owner of the StarKist Samoa cannery in Pago Pago is confident the company will overcome any challenge related to federally mandated wage hikes in American Samoa.
Minimum wage hikes in the territory have been on hold since 2009, and the next 50 cent per hour increase is set for September of next year.
American Samoa has lobbied the U.S. Congress to permanently halt all future increases until the local economy improves.
StarKist's chief executive officer and president, Andrew Choe, told reporters in Pago Pago that minimum wage hikes will have some impact on StarKist Samoa, but the company has good local support and a committed workforce.
"We have strong support from the local leadership, so I am confident that we will find a way to overcome the challenge, and still be successful in American Samoa."
StarKist chief executive officer and president Andrew Choe.
CEO of Starkist visits American Samoa
U.S. based StarKist cannery says its new chief executive and president Andrew Choe is in American Samoa for a week long visit.
While in the territory, Mr Choe will be spending time at the StarKist Samoa plant, and will meet with a number of local government and business leaders.
Mr Choe had said once he took over the leadership post on November the 1st, he wanted to visit American Samoa as soon as possible to show his commitment to the local Samoan leadership and to the StarKist Samoa employees.
He says StarKist Samoa's ongoing success would not be possible without StarKist employees' hard work and commitment.
Funds raised to help Samoa children
An Auckland chapter of the Samoa Victim Support Group has officially launched, with hopes of raising more awareness and support for vulnerable children in Samoa.
The Auckland group raised over 12,000 US dollars for the SVSG, and presented the cheque to its president, Lina Chang, at a launch dinner over the weekend.
An Auckland volunteer, Jamie Su'a, says it's important that the Samoan community in Auckland joins in the fight to help abused children back home.
She says the money they raise will go towards providing a future for those children.
"Providing them with a home, or shelter, a roof over their head. Food to feed them to get by, schooling. Just providing the basic necessities as well, and giving it to them, because obviously they don't have it. Lina and her crew has stepped in and provided that for them, so it's maintaining that."
Jamie Su'a says they want to help to ensure the work the SVSG is doing in Samoa continues.
Fisheries hub planned for Asau
By Nanai Laveitiga Tuiletufuga, SAVALI
Plans are in the pipeline for Savai’i to have its own Fisheries Division.
Cabinet has endorsed a project to upgrade Asau wharf as headquarters for the new Fisheries Division for Savaii.
“We plan to renovate Asau wharf and construct a marina dock for alias and small fishing boats,” said Fisheries chief executive Fonoiava Sealiitu Sesega in an interview this week.
“There will also be hatcheries, fish ponds and tanks for research purposes. Office facilities will also be constructed.
But funding is the biggest obstacle delaying the project
“We have requested financial support from the Asian Development Bank and the Government of Turkey.
“China is also a consideration. Once funding is secured, the project will then proceed.
“The concept is to utilise Asau and hopefully attract investors such as a cannery to the Big Island.
“We are thinking big but starting small.
“Having a fisheries research sector in Savaii is also a plus for the fishing industry there.
“And it’s all about providing economic opportunities for the rural community by decentralizing our services from Apia.
“At the end of the day, it will be the families and our communities that will be the main benefactors.”
Friction in American Samoa over farming program
American Samoan farmers have repeated their fears to the Governor that foreign farmers are buying up land and cashing in on government programmes to the detriment of locals.
More than 100 farmers met Lolo Matalasi Moliga to complain that the 17-million US dollar budget for the School Lunch Programme is not reaching locals.
Galumalemana Bill Satele says he thinks about half of the budget is benefitting foreign farm owners.
But the Director of Agriculture, Lealao Mel Purcell, says many Samoans lease their land to Asian developers, who run plantations, and while Samoans grow staple crops, such as taro and banana, the foreign famers grow a greater range of vegetables - the kind that the School Lunch Program needs.
According to data provided by the Director of Education, Vaitinasa Dr Salu Hunkin Finau, 194 farmers are registered to sell produce to the School Lunch Programme, and 40 of them are Asian farmers.
She says the programme is aimed at buying local produce but farmers are not producing enough.
Woman is convicted of Bigamy
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA: FRIDAY 17 OCTOBER 2014: A woman has been charged with bigamy and could face imprisonment if found guilty.
The Acting Police Commissioner Misa Tala’imanu Nafo’i Keti confirmed that the woman’s husband filed the charge against his wife.
The penalty for bigamy is 10 years imprisonment.
The names and villages of the accused are withheld for several reasons.
But the case revolved around the woman taking another legal husband when she was in New Zealand while still married to the complainant.
According to police report, the woman went to New Zealand to raise funds for the village church christening (fa’aulufalega).
While in New Zealand, she married another man.
The husband in Samoa knew about the marriage but waited until she returned.
Misa said the wife admitted to her husband her marriage in New Zealand hence the complaint.
The matter is still under investigation.
Samoan travel agent pleads guilty to one count of wire fraud
$360,000 stolen from high school traveling group
By Fili Sagapolutele
A Samoan travel agent, accused by federal prosecutors of defrauding a high school marching band by stealing $360,000 and using the money for gambling and trips to Samoa, has pled guilty at the federal court in Springfield, Missouri.
New court records, filed by prosecutors, reveal that Calliope Rocky Saaga, aka Ope, of Utah, wire transferred $100,000 in 2012 from his business bank account — a bank in Samoa. He is from Samoa.
Saaga, 40, was charged in May this year under a 15 count indictment. He was faced with several charges of wire fraud and money laundering. However, court documents show that he appeared yesterday before U.S. District Court Judge David P. Rush and pled guilty to only one count of wire fraud under a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Electronic court records didn't show when Saaga — who is out on bond — will be sentenced. Because it was already after hours in Missouri when Samoa News received word of the plea agreement, neither prosecutor nor defense attorney could immediately be reached for comments.
However, court records say that both sides have until Nov. 3 to file a response to a pre- sentence report and plea agreement.
The 17-page agreement provided some details that weren’t included in the indictment, such as the fact that Saaga was seen in video surveillance camera gambling in Las Vegas. There were also emails sent to Chris Church, band director of the Willard High School marching band.
Saaga, who operates a business called Present America Tours LLC, was contracted in January 2011 to make travel arrangements and lodging for 300 students and their chaperones from Willard for a trip to Hawai’i in the summer of 2012.
Total trip package was $360,000 and the money was wired transferred on 12 separate occasions to Saaga, who didn’t use the high school band funds for the intended purpose of booking airfare, lodging, transportation, meals, tours, and travel insurance.
Instead, Saaga diverted the money for his benefit, according to the plea agreement, which also states that financial records and other documents show Saaga gambled in the Las Vegas, Nevada area at least 47 days during the 12 month period the band transferred funds to his company.
The agreement went on to say that on Jan. 23, 2012, the band director received an email from Saaga, who apologized for not getting in touch.
“I went straight to San Francisco from Samoa and have been there the past 2 weeks dealing with a family tragedy,” the email said in part. Saaga also claimed that he was heading to Utah and that he would make contact thereafter.
Contrary to the email, prosecutors say that video and casino records revealed that Saaga used his time gambling at six Las Vegas casinos between Jan. 5- 21, 2012. Prosecutors also identified in the plea agreement the name of each casino.
And on Jan. 26, the defendant sent another email to the band director, this time talking about the trip and ground arrangements in Honolulu for the band. The agreement further revealed details of another email, Apr. 9, 2012, that lulled the band leader into believing that the band trip was still a reality. (The agreement provided specific details of each email message).
However, in a second email on Apr. 9, 2012, Saaga offered apologies and that he will not be able to provide the services he was contracted to offer.
“I write this letter with a heavy heart and deep deep sorrow for letting you and the group down. I made some terrible decisions with the money and am now in the midst of trying to sell every asset I have in Samoa to pay the group back. It will be a slow process so I beg of your patience as my number one priority to get every cent I owe to the group,” the email said in part and purported to have been sent from Samoa.
“I am limited with correspondence here in Samoa as I try to recover all the funds. I am terribly sorry again... I know I have betrayed you and the groups trust in me. I have had a rough go with all personal relationships the past several months and made some bad decisions in trying to recover the funds for the group’s trip. My priority at this point is to make things right with the group...,” the message said.
The agreement went on to say that prior to, and during the time Saaga communicated with the band director, the defendant continue to use the high school band’s funds which were being wired to his business account for his own benefit.
For example, in November 2011 and March 2012, the defendant withdrew a total of $96,000 in cash in Las Vegas, where casino records show he was gambling in Las Vegas at the time.
The agreement also states that on Apr. 20, 2012, Saaga wire transferred $100,000 to the National Bank of Samoa and that Saaga is from Samoa.
According to the agreement, wire fraud — a felony — is punishable by not more than 20 years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release. He must also pay in full any restitution ordered by the court.
Meanwhile, Saaga has an identical case pending at the federal court in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he is facing a three count indictment for wire fraud and aiding and abetting. The charges stem from three separate wire transfers totaling $272,500 between 2011 and 2012 from the Southside High School Marching Band for their trip to Hawai’i in the summer of 2012.
Like the Missouri marching band, the Southside marching band never made the trip because Saaga used the money for his own benefit.
Saaga is expected to appear in the next couple of days at the Fort Smith federal court to enter a change of plea from not guilty to guilty.
- See more at: http://www.samoanews.com/content/en/samoan-travel-agent-pleads-guilty-one-count-wire-fraud#sthash.fz5BIMhY.tHG08nnf.dpuf
Teachers from Samoa arrive in American Samoa
The first group of Samoan teachers hired by American Samoa in a bid to improve its education system have arrived in Pago Pago.
The American Samoa Education Department Director, Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin-Finau says the 25 qualified teachers were selected from more than 100 applicants, and will teach in American Samoa for the next two years.
Vaitinasa says hiring qualified teachers from Samoa is part of the department's initiative to place highly qualified people in the hard-to-fill areas of maths, science and english.
An orientation training for the teachers from Samoa will be conducted before they report to their schools this week.
Vaitinasa says it is likely more teachers from Samoa will be recruited to fill the continuous shortage of teachers.
Fiji exports latest batch of sheep to Samoa
SUVA, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- Fiji's Ministry of Agriculture has organized the latest shipment of Fiji-bred sheep to its Pacific neighbor Samoa, the Fijian government said Monday.
Bred at a privately owned multiplication sheep center in the northern Fijian island of Vanua Levu, the latest sheep development "demonstrates years of attempt by the government to get this project running", said the Department of Information.
Tomasi Tunabuna, director for animal health and production of the Ministry of Agriculture, said this is the first of its kind to export 100 breeding female sheep from the multiplication center ever since its set-up six years ago.
Another 10 sheep, male, from a research station of the Ministry of Agriculture, have also been exported, he said.
The 110 sheep were sent on the request from the Samoan government to the Fijian government, Tunabuna said, adding that the sheep were carefully quarantined before departing for Samoa.
Fiji had exported sheep to its Pacific neighbors in the past.
"In 2004, we managed to export 40 breeding ewes (female sheep) and four rams (male sheep) to Samoa while in 2005 we were able to ship four breeding rams and 40 breeding ewes to the Kingdom of Tonga," said Tunabuna.
Four police officers in Samoa suspended in relation to jailing of 3 y/o
Four police officers, including an inspector, have been suspended in Samoa as a result of an inquiry into a 3-year-old who was locked in jail with his father last Friday.
The father was taken into custody for driving an unlicensed vehicle, and his son, who was in the car at the time of the arrest, was also taken into police custody.
The acting Police Commissioner, Misa Talaimanu Keti, says an internal inquiry found there was a breach in the performance of police duties, especially by the suspended officers who had dealt with the matter.
The officers will appear before a police tribunal on the 28th of October.
Misa says the Ministry of Police and Prisons is now looking at providing further education for the officers on how to handle matters involving children.
11 years for social media sex case in Samoa
In Samoa, a 27 year old man has been jailed for eleven years after he was found guilty of nine charges including rape, indecent assault, and filming his unlawful sexual acts.
There is concern in Samoa at the increase in cases involving the new crime of filming and uploading to social media cases of sexual assault.
The police said the defendant threatened the 19 year old woman that he would show the world what had happened to her if she told anyone.
Four months after the offences the woman was told by her fellow students they had seen naked images of her on Facebook.
Samoa remembers Police officers who passed away in service
The families of five Samoan police officers who died in service have been presented with certificates of honour in appreciation of their service to the islands.
The Acting Police Commissioner Fauono Talalelei Tapu says the presentation was made at a ceremony to mark the second Police Remembrance Day in Samoa.
Fauono says four of the men died due to heart complications while working this year while another died in 2013.
He says their service is deeply appreciated by the government and people of Samoa.
Fauono says the force also took time to remember those serving overseas.
"We also remember our brothers serving in Sudan and in Solomon Islands and in Darfur. They are still there in good condition but we still remember them as they are away from home. They are also in good health and they are well looked after."
Samoa's acting Police Commissioner Fauono Talalelei Tapu
Samoa health ministry advises about ebola
Samoa's Ministry of Health with support from the World Health Organisation has issued an advisory amid concerns about the Ebola virus disease.
It comes after the Prime Minister and chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union, Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, has revealed a decision to cancel Samoa's sevens rugby team attending an international tournament in Kenya.
The Prime Minister says there will be other times for the sevens to compete but it is better not to go this time because of fear someone might get infected.
But the health ministry says the WHO maintains that the risk of importing a case of Ebola into Samoa remains low because currently there are no direct flights from affected areas.
But it says the advisory should still be taken notice of.
New legislation hoped to control slaughter of Samoa's livestock
The head of the livestock division within Samoa's agriculture ministry says new legislation before parliament will introduce controls around the slaughter of animals.
Laumata says Samoa's self-reliance on breeding its own cattle from imported livestock is currently threatened by the uncontrolled slaughter of animals to be sold or used for occasions such as funerals and traditional events.
Leota says the proposed legislation -- awaiting its third reading -- will also control meat processing to ensure food safety standareds in Samoa.
Meanwhile, a second shipment of more than one hundred tropical sheep is due to arrive from Fiji next month, which is hoped to increase the number of locally-bred animals that can be sold to farmers.
Manu Samoa Sevens players in court on assault charges
Two Manu Samoa Sevens rugby players have appeared in the district court, facing one count each of assault with intent to obstruct.
The two, Alatasi Tupou and Patrick Faapale, have entered no plea because the court is awaiting confirmation from the police prosecution on a move by a male complainant to withdraw the case against them.
This should be finalised when the matter will be heard in court again on Monday.
The charges come after a young man was allegedly assaulted by the suspects for pointing them the finger.
Alatasi Tupou is one of the 12 players selected for the Manu Samoa Sevens rugby team to play in next month's Foru 7's tournament and the first leg of the IRB Sevens circuit in the Gold Coast in Australia.
Samoa works to save more trees
The Samoan government is working with villages to protect their forests from increasing threats of climate change, unsustainable land use and invasive species.
Supported by the UNDP and the Global Environment Fund, the Integration of Climate Change Risks and Resilience into Forestry Management project engages 26 communities across Samoa to better manage the forest resources on which they rely.
Mary Baines visited one of the forests, at Luatuanu'u Village, just outside of Apia.
The UNDP administrator, Helen Clark, says stronger forests reduce the risk of landslides, flood and poor water supply, and will help protect communities against cyclones and other natural disasters.
HELEN CLARK: Climate change is changing their lives. This country is getting hotter, it's getting wetter, it's getting more frequent and more intense storms. Where you have a lot of introduced, non-indigenous vegetation, it doesn't stand up to this very well. So part of the project is about planting more appropriate trees which can withstand these effects.
Ms Clark says as part of the project, villages have made three-dimensional models of their forest areas to see a birds-eye view of how the rivers, agricultural land and entire ecosystem work together.
HELEN CLARK: Projects don't succeed unless the local people want them, own them and drive them. And that's what we've seen with the 3D modelling here. The village has said yes, we want to be part of this, we're going to design it. And it's given a full understanding of this ridge to reef concept, that we need holistic ecosystem management from the mountain-top down to the lagoon and ocean.
The Head of Forestry at Samoa's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Moafanua Tolusina Pouli, says strengthening forest management will protect native species and biodiversity.
MOAFANUA TOLUSINA POULI: Working very closely with the community how they assist in protecting those areas because of the genetic biodiversity conservation, and also the ecosystem services, because they're relying on the water supply and also the birds, and native ones.
The project also involves re-planting native trees in community nurseries, and with the help of the Samoa Farmers Association, the productivity of low-lying agricultural land is being improved so there's less need to encroach into upland forests. Ela Tavita, who lives at Luatuanu'u Village, says the project has made a difference to the community.
ELA TAVITA: It's important for us to plant the cabbage, carrots, to earn some money for our village, for the future of our kids and also the people of this village.
The Global Environment Fund's Chief Executive Officer, Naoko Ishii, says the model has provided the Samoan government with valuable local knowledge which will be used in future national forestry plans.
NAOKO ISHII: Local knowledge is now connected to the national policy, that's the key. I'm so pleased to see how it works on the ground and how everything fights against climate change. So I'm so assured that this is the model we can continue to pass on for the future.
The project has a budget of 2.4 million US dollars until 2015.
Samoa Police Commissioner to fight cabinet termination
The Samoan government has upheld a recommendation by a Commission of Inquiry to terminate the service of the Police Commissioner, Lilomaiava Fou Taioalo, because he breached his duties.
It's the result of a separate Commission of Inquiry into alleged corruption and abuse of power in the management of Tafaigata prison.
The Prime Minister, Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, says the Commission recommended for Lilomaiava to retire, which means he has had his service terminated.
But Lilomaiava told our correspondent that he has not been served or informed of a decision.
Lilomaiava says he is seeking legal advice, and will comment further when he receives a written decision.
American Samoa receives major disaster declaration
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa. The federal government is approving American Samoa's request for help with storms, flooding and landslides that caused more than $5 million in damage and left one person dead.
The White House announced the major disaster declaration for the territory on Wednesday. The territory's governor wrote to President Barack Obama last month for help with the heavy rain, flooding and landslides that occurred from July 29 to Aug. 3, which left many people homeless.
The declaration makes federal funding available to local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations to repair or replace damaged facilities.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency says additional disaster designations could be made later if requested by the territory, based on damage assessments. Someone from FEMA visited Pago Pago for two days last month to assess the damage.
Samoa keen on methane
By Vaughan Elder
One man's rubbish is another man's electricity.
Neville Auton, who as Dunedin City Council energy manager, was behind the successful initiative to capture methane from Green Island landfill and convert it to electricity, is pushing the idea in Samoa.
Now an energy consultant for Otago Polytechnic, he has just returned from the United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States, held in Apia, where he spoke about the idea.
In order to progress repeating the Green Island initiative in Apia the polytechnic had signed a memorandum of understanding with the National University of Samoa and Mr Auton was confident the idea could work in Apia.
Renewable energy was a major focus at the UN Conference, as island states grappled with their reliance on diesel-generated power.
Samoa - which relies on diesel for 60% of its energy - was keen on the idea.
''In the past, there has been rhetoric, but this time they were really looking for action,'' Mr Auton said.
Assessing the viability of the project would likely be a two-year project.
''We will be looking at research projects with the university over there to get accurate data to make decisions on.''
That would include quantifying the different types of rubbish which came into the Apia landfill.
Small island conference leaves ‘legacy with impact’ – UN
4 September 2014 – With $1.9 billion pledged in sustainable development partnerships, the United Nations on Thursday wrapped up its small island developing States conference and kicked off a drum roll of action on climate change.
The Secretary-General of the Third International Conference on Small Island and Developing States, Wu Hongbo, characterized the summit, the largest of its kind in the Pacific, as “extraordinary.”
Briefing journalists in Apia, Samoa, Mr. Wu said 297 partnerships between governments, businesses, civil society and UN entities had been announced during the four days.
“Without a doubt, these partnerships leave a legacy with impact,” Mr. Wu said. He added that the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), which he heads, will take on the responsibility of reporting on the commitments' progress to hold the participants to account.
The partnerships are in the areas of sustainable economic development, climate change and disaster risk management, social development, sustainable energy, ocean health, and water and sanitation, food security and waste management.
They are in line with the conference's outcome document, nicknamed the Samoa Pathway, which was unanimously endorsed at the last plenary session today.
"The time for speeches is over,” Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi said in his closing statement. “We must now set sail with determination that the course of action we have chartered here… will be delivered to achieve our priorities."
The end of the conference begins the countdown to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Climate Summit on 23 September at UN Headquarters in New York.
"This conference actually starts what the Secretary-General calls the drum roll of action," said Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres. "Climate change is an anchoring issue at the conference in Samoa, which in 2009, experienced an earthquake and a tsunami."
The UNFCCC is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. In this context, Ms. Figueres is overseeing talks between countries for a universally accepted climate treaty to be hammered out next year in Paris.
Following today's events, the UN flag was formally lowered over the Tuana'imato sports complex, symbolically returning the site to the Government of Samoa.
Samoa policemen demoted for jailing 3 year-old
Three policemen in Samoa have been demoted and a fourth has received a final warning as punishment for holding a 3 year-old in jail.
The child's father was taken into custody for driving an unlicensed vehicle and as the child was in the car at the time of the arrest, the boy was also jailed.
Inspector Keti Tole'afoa, who was the head of the Traffic division, has been demoted to sergeant but has filed an appeal.
His second in charge, Sergeant Fetu Ta'alili, has been dropped to the rank of corporal and both have been transferred to work in the General Policing division.
Corporal Filipo Ma'a, has been demoted to the rank of constable while Constable Nikisone Isaia has been given a final warning.
Prematurity bulk of baby deaths in Samoa
A doctor at Samoa's baby unit says women need to seek medical care early in their pregnancies to avoid the risks of premature delivery.
The World Health Organisation says preterm birth is the world's largest killer of newborn babies, causing more than one million deaths each year, but 75 per cent could be saved without expensive, high technology care.
A Pediatric Registrar, Dr Litra Esera, told Jenny Meyer in Samoa babies born up to ten weeks early are able to be supported but up to half do not survive due to overwhelming infection.
LITRA ESERA: For Samoa we had a pediatric symposium that we conducted back in 2011 and that was when we did an audit on causes of admissions into our nursery unit which is where we host the premature babies. So prematurity made up the bulk our deaths in our nursery unit. But the causes that I know, in Samoa we have quite a lot of unbooked mothers, so infection is hard to rule out so that must be the leading cause of prematurity in our setting. Probably infection and undiagnosed infection, things like urinary tract infections in mums. As well as multiple pregnancies is the other one, twin pregnancies, we have quite a lot of premature twin deliveries and we do lose some of them.
JENNY MEYER: How is the standard of care for premature babies in the Pacific Islands? I guess they're very expensive to care for given that some of them need to stay in hospital weeks or even months?
LE: Yes, So at the moment we are able to support babies that are 30 weeks and above, if they don't have any overwhelming sepsis. But we do try and care for them in our nursery unit and I'd say half of them do make it, the other half don't really, because the infection is the main reason, overwhelming infection.
JM: What can be done to try and help these very vulnerable babies do you think? What can women do to try and keep a pregnancy you know running the full term of 40 weeks rather than going into premature labour?
LE: So at the moment because we've got quite a lot of women who sort of book late, or don't book at all, they just turn up to give birth sort of thing and come in in labour with a premature pregnancy. So booking would be one of the first things. Just encourage them to do their booking bloods, do a urine test and so they can be supplemented if needed. That would be one of the things that we are trying to push for at the moment back in the periphery. Because we have a lot of traditional healers and it's still quite prevalent in our population to sort of go to the traditional healer, rather than coming to hospital in the first instance when one becomes pregnant.
Samoan Associate Minister charged with theft and forgery
Samoa's Associate Minister of Trade, Commerce, and Industry, Muagututagata Peter Ah Him, is standing trial on charges of theft, false pretences, forgery and altering documents.
The charges against the minister arose from an investigation into a complaint by the Grand Ocean company in which the minister is a share holder.
Muagututagata is accused of offences involving about 30 thousand US dollars that the Chinese company had paid for the release and clearance of two containers from Customs.
Muagututagata has denied all charges.
Samoa village turns down Chinese tourism venture
Village leaders of Sale'aula village in Samoa have turned down a proposal by a Chinese company for a tourism development project in fear of losing their land.
Sale'aula's Member of Parliament Levaopolo Talatonu Vaai coordinated the deal and was surprised at the last minute decision not to sign the lease agreement with Grand Ocean Ltd.
Levaopolo says the hotel project would have helped the district in terms of employment and financial stability.
He says the fear of losing land is not a good enough reason and believes there was more to the decision than that.
"I am thinking there's a lot of political tactics from these few people of the village. But unfortunately, they missed it. And I also told them this project is not for us in this time but it's for our children and the next generation in the future."
Levaopolo Talatonu Vaai says the constitution ensures that customary land in Samoa can only be leased, not sold.
American Samoa tuna industry leaders raise concerns over Kiribati's reduction of US fishing access
By Jemima Garrett for Pacific Beat
Tuna industry leaders in American Samoa say Kiribati's decision to reduce the fishing days it is offering the United States could be devastating for the local community.
The rich waters of Kiribati are vital to American Samoa and to the Pago Pago-based US tuna fleet, which used 5,000 fishing days last year.
Earlier this month, Pacific Island nations signed a $90 million tuna deal with the US government and its fishing industry.
But during negotiations for the extension of the US Tuna Treaty, Kiribati offered just 300 of a total of 8,300 fishing days for 2015.
Trimarine, one of the world's biggest tuna companies, has recently committed $70 million in new investment in its Pago Pago processing facility.
Chief operating officer Joe Hamby said Kiribati's change in policy was a big disappointment.
"This decision by Kiribati to limit the number of fishing days available under the US treaty for these boats that are based in American Samoa or anywhere for that matter, it has a direct and immediate impact on the fishing community of American Samoa, where half of the population is working in the tuna industry," he said.
Neighbouring Pacific countries to Kirbati have offered fishing days to replace those the US has lost, but Mr Hamby said they were not feasible options.
"Kiribati's EEZ [exclusive economic zone] is only two to three days away from American Samoa. Fishing grounds in Papua New Guinea or Solomon Islands or Federated States of Micronesia are as long as 10 to 12 days away.
"It's simply not economical for those boats to go such a distance to fish and then turn around and come back all the way to American Samoa."
Despite the lucrative deal in this year's tuna agreement, Kiribati believes it can get a better rate for its days from other countries.
The 25-year tuna treaty, which has strategic importance for Washington, is a complex arrangement with many vested interests.
Of the $90 million due to the Pacific next year, $21 million is in treaty aid.
Transform Aqoraum, the chief executive of the PNA, the organisation representing the eight tuna-rich nations, is among the industry leaders calling for an overhaul of the tuna deal.
Mr Aqoraum said market-based mechanisms such as auctioning or tendering for fishing days will work much better, adding that when the treaty is renegotiated aid can be used to ensure all Pacific nations still benefit.
Palolo harvests are slim in American Samoa
By B. Chen
The thousands of local residents who lined the territory’s shores during the early morning hours of Wednesday and Thursday went home with wet clothes and empty buckets, after the anticipated palolo swarm failed to show.
An official from the Dept. of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR) said yesterday that their office has received no official word from anyone who found palolo this week, so a big swarm could occur in November.
Years ago, calculations on when the palolo would rise were based on the full moon. If the full moon occurs during the first and second week of October, chances are, the palolo rise would be strong in November. However, if the full moon occurs during the last two weeks of October, then the palolo swarm would be strong that month.
News from Apia, Samoa said that the palolo rise there was very strong, with people selling an ofu (fist-sized portion) for $30WST, with some being sold as high as $50WST.
On the Big Island of Savai’i, half-full buckets of palolo were being sold for $1,000WST, while containers full of the sea delicacy were priced at $50WST at the Salelologa Market.
The palolo activity in independent Samoa plays a part in the local predictions for the palolo rise. Many say that if the swarm is strong in Samoa in October, it will make its way to the territory in November. We’ll have to wait and see.
Last year, hundreds of people came prepared with flashlights, mosquito netting (cheese cloths), and buckets, ready to rush into the water and catch the once-a-year occurrence.
The general consensus is — palolo will rise every year either in October or November, sometimes during both months. Last year, a good showing occurred in October as local residents were able to take some home while ‘alia fishing boats that went out to sea came home with buckets full of the slimy worm.
Based on reports from 60 people, who were interviewed by DMWR last year, an estimated 461lbs. of palolo was collected last October, which averages out to about 7.7lbs. of palolo catch per person. Of course, this is based solely on the answers collected from the 60 people who were interviewed.
No palolo survey was conducted by DMWR in 2012 because of the weak swarm. The purpose of the palolo survey, according to an initial interview with DMWR’s Yvonne Mika, “is to collect data on the relative harvest of the palolo spawning in volume.” She added, “this information will assist DMWR’s long term monitoring of fisheries and the palolo trends through the years.”
Palolo is the edible part of a polychaete worm (Eunice viridis) that lives in shallow coral reefs in the south central pacific area where it uses its sizable jaws to dig itself a burrow in the limestone substrate. Most of the year it lives quietly, feeding on algae and microorganisms, small crustaceans, and even its own young.
Nineteen Chiefs’ of Police from around the Pacific – including Samoa – are gathering in Auckland for the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police annual conference, hosted by New Zealand Police Commissioner, Mike Bush.
Samoa is represented Acting Police Commissioner, Fauono Talalelei Tapu.
The major focus of this year’s gathering is, Prevention through Regional Collaboration. As well as the re-admission of Fiji back into the fold now that it is no longer under military rule.
Commissioner Mike Bush says “The benefits of collaboration on law enforcement issues that affect the Pacific cannot be overstated”.
“This annual P.I.C.P. conference provides a valuable opportunity to assess ongoing actions within our work programmes and advance our thinking around Prevention”.
Cyber crime, illicit drugs, organised crime and family violence are common crime themes that will be addressed this week by the Pacific police leaders. A focus will also be placed on the development of more women into the various Police organisations.
“We will see strong leadership this week with the agreement of a new P.I.C.P. strategic plan. This plan has a strong preventative theme and innovative strategies that would be developed across the police organisations in the next five years.
“It’s very important that New Zealand Police in partnership with other jurisdictions continue to assist and develop Police organisations in Pacific Island countries. This will help to ensure law and order remains stable in all communities and
countries, and the Pacific remains safe and secure,” said Mr Bush
Conference delegates were welcomed this afternoon.
New Zealand Ambassador for the Pacific Economic Development, Shane Jones will officially open the conference.
Japan will fund the Apia Wharf expansion
By Nanai Laveitiga Tuiletufuga
Japan has committed funding to upgrade the Matautu Wharf.
The project includes expansion of the wharf, which according to Ports Administration Minister Manu’alesagalala Enokati Posala, will allow larger cruise ships to dock at Matautu.
“It will also expand the present container storage facility to meet the ports growing trans-shipment demands,” he said.
“The project will also address the safety of passenger and security of port employees.
“But total funding will not be determined until early 2014.
“Japan has committed to fund the project from their annual grant allocation to Samoa. But the funding component will not be finalized until consultants from Japan meet with officials at our Ports Authority in January.”
“I am very happy that funding has been secured for this important project.
“The current dock will be extended by another 135 meters.”
JICA-Japan’s International Cooperation Agency Programme Advisor Tetsuti Nakasone said;
“When completed, the dock will be 300 meters long – enough to cater for larger cruise ships. The dock expansion also includes a safety enhancement component for cruise ship passengers and lighter vessels.
“An initial scope and study of the Apia Harbor found that this is most favorable. It will minimize the dangers posed by the underwater swells in the harbor.”
Meanwhile, according to the Ports Minister, upgrading the Matautu wharf is all part government’s regional port vision.
“The idea,” he said, “is for Matautu to eventually compliment the proposed Vaiusu Port project.
“Matautu will be the transhipment center where goods can be stored and transhipped to neighboring Pacific Island countries.
“Ongoing transhipment trials for fish exports to American Samoa by long liners have shown that there is huge potential for Samoa to be a transhipment point.
“We are very optimistic especially with the latest word from Japan this week reaffirming their support in principle to design, build and fund the proposed upgrade.
“We want to maintain Matautu wharf as a second port of entry.
“The thinking is for Matautu to concentrate on the transhipment of goods and as a support dock for the main port to be built at Vaiusu.
“Right now, Shanghai Construction of China has submitted its funding bid to the Chinese Government to build the Vaiusu Bay Project.”
If all goes well, said the minister, construction of the first phase of the Vaiusu Port should start in 2016.
Philippine company promises American Samoa jobs
A company from the Philippines hoping to set up a multi-million dollar food processing factory in American Samoa says it will take advantage of benefits that allow American Samoa-made products duty free entry into the United States.
The principal owner of AVM Bernardo Engineering, Anthony Bernardo, says he has been pursuing a processing venture in the territory since 2009 and he hopes to break ground on the 100 million US dollar plant by the end of the year.
Mr Bernando says the proposed plant will employ 700 locals to make fish-based products for export.
He says the American Samoa government has been supportive of the proposal.
American Samoa to vote on veto override, giving us an excuse to write about American Samoa
Reid Wilson Washington Post
Millions of dollars, perhaps more than a billion, will be spent on some of the 150 or so initiatives, referenda and propositions around the country this year. Voters in American Samoa, however, probably won’t face the inundation of outside spending on their big ballot measure this year — one that would give the legislature the power to override a governor’s veto.
But that just gives us an excuse to take a look at the tiny U.S. territory, home to 55,000 residents spread across five islands and two coral atolls buried deep in the South Pacific. They do things a little differently there: The legislature is the only one in American jurisdiction that doesn’t have veto override power.
A few other items of note about American Samoa, which has been a U.S. territory since 1900:
Polynesian Airlines gets extension in American Samoa
Polynesian Airlines is to continue its service to Manu'a for another 30 days after the US Department of Transportation approved the airline's request for an extension to cabotage waiver.
Cabotage is a federal rule preventing foreign carriers from flying between two US destinations.
In its application for an extension, Polynesian said that no US carrier was serving the Pago Pago to Manu'a route.
The department ruled that it was in the public interest, and allowing the Samoa carrier to continue its service to Manu'a until October 30th should prevent unreasonable hardship to residents of American Samoa.
The agency has deferred Polynesian's request to operate through to November 30.
Volunteers to fill teacher shortage in A.Samoa
American Samoa's Governor has asked volunteers to fill teacher vacancies at public schools as a short-term fix for the territory's teacher shortage.
Lolo Matalisa Moliga has asked for the volunteers to fill in for two to three weeks until the Education Department has processed new recruits from Samoa.
The Governor says he only learned of the teacher shortage last week, and isn't happy that no-one from the department approached him to ask for help.
The Director of Education, Vaitinasa Dr Hunkin Finau, says the shortage is an annual problem because some teachers abandon their jobs without giving any word.
However, Governor Lolo says he can't accept that the Education Department didn't foresee the shortage.
The mysterious disappearance of a “big white dog” the Police apparently caught at the Magiagi Cemetery at 3am last weekend has left the men in blue miffed.
So much so the Police Force has since changed the working hours for members of the K9 Unit so that they no longer work past 10pm.
Acting Police Commissioner, Fauono Talalelei Tapu, told the Samoa Observer that the mystery started when members of the Unit picked up the “big white dog” with three other dogs at Magiagi that morning.
“The dog was locked in the back of the vehicle,” Fauono said. “It was locked along with three other animals that were found in caged traps that had been left in the area.”
Fauono said the mystery dog was not found in a cage.
“It was wandering around the area when the officers pulled it in and loaded it into the back of their vehicle.”
Officers of the Unit, however, were mystified upon arrival at the Police headquarters in Apia to find that the “big white dog was not there.”
“When they checked to see how it could possibly got, they found that there was no damage anywhere to indicate that it jumped out of the vehicle while it was moving,” Fauono said.
“There was also no sign of the door being opened while the vehicle was heading towards the police headquarters.”
Fauono said officers were alarmed and up until now, they are still trying to work out what happened.
The Acting Commissioner though has some ideas.
“People might consider this as us being superstitious but it’s reality that we still have ghosts roaming today,” he said.
In light of the incident, Fauono said “the officers at the unit have been told to get off work at 10pm.”
Fauono said he does not foresee any problems with this since by that time, all the traps have been set to catch stray dogs.
“This means that they will not be taking in any more early morning calls from families around Upolu,” he said.
As for the mystery dog, Fauono said; “We don't know how it could have possibly escaped. It was locked in between two other cages. So there is no way that it could have escaped or get out.”
So who let the dog out?
Samoa Gets World Bank Grant For Promoting Economic Growth
The World Bank and the Independent State of Samoa have signed an agreement for a US$7.5 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA), it was announced Friday.
According to a World bank statement, the grant is the first in a two-part operation aimed at strengthening public finances and supporting continued economic growth in Samoa.
The agreement was signed by Samoa's Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi in New York on Friday.
"This grant will contribute towards national efforts in taking forward the Samoa Pathway outcomes of the recent Small Island Developing States Conference," Prime Minister Malielegaoi said.
"The continuing reforms are important to the implementation of the key priorities for the Government of Samoa, boosting shared prosperity across the country," he added.
The grant will contribute to strengthening public financial management as well as a sustainable tourism policy and private sector development. Improvements in the payments system will also have important impacts for remittances which are critical to many Samoans, contributing, on average, almost 25 percent to GDP over the last four years.
"Strong public financial management ensures effective use of public resources allowing for better delivery of services to everyday Samoans in areas such as health, education and infrastructure," said Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank Group Vice President for East Asia and the Pacific. "
"This grant is part of our comprehensive support program for Samoa and its people. We have a strong and deep relationship with Samoa and are committed to a long term partnership focused on supporting the country's development strategy," he added.
Samoa is an important Pacific Island country that faces significant challenges related to external shocks and natural disasters. In recent years it has weathered the global financial crisis and natural disasters including a tsunami in 2009 and a cyclone in 2012 that caused combined damages and losses estimated at 30 percent of GDP.
"This operation will be implemented alongside other World Bank support in Samoa such as post-cyclone recovery and reconstruction work including infrastructure restoration, boosting agriculture productivity and strengthening the tourism industry," the statement added.
by RTT Staff Writer
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Prime Minister of Samoa receives UNWTO/WTTC Open Letter on Travel and Tourism
In recognition of tourism’s vital contribution to socio-economic development, particularly in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, has received the UNWTO / World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Open Letter on Travel and Tourism on the occasion of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States.
The UNWTO/WTTC Open Letter calls on heads of state and government around the world to acknowledge tourism's key role in delivering more sustained and balanced growth and prioritize the sector higher in national policies in order to maximize its potential.
Meeting UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, and WTTC Chairman, Michael Frenzel, on the sidelines of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, Tuilaepa said:
“Sustainable tourism is an area that our government has placed much importance, as it holds key potential for future economic growth and social development. Great benefits from tourism are envisaged and have already been realised accounting for 20 per cent of national GDP per annum. Sustainable Tourism supports employment, provides foreign exchange and builds the economy and it is still expanding the capacities of Samoa."
“We envisage a growing tourism sector that will lead in green growth development that engages our visitors and people to a Samoa that is recognized as a leading Pacific nation for Sustainable Tourism.”
“I am very happy to see such high level support afforded to tourism in Samoa, a country that has progressed significantly in recent yearsthanksin no small part to the benefits brought by the tourism sector”, said Mr. Rifai. “Tourism is a socio-economic mainstay in many islands such as Samoa and I am confident that the political support demonstrated to the sector by the Prime Minister will allow it to be a continuous driver of sustainable development and improvedlivelihoodsin this pristine country”, he added.
Dr. Frenzel said: “WTTC is delighted that the Samoan Government is committed to the sustainable development of our industry. Travel & Tourism is a major contributor to economic growth, to trade, to job creation, to diversification of the economy and to social well-being. It is vital that the travel andtourism industry in Samoa gets the right support and investment at government level to allow the industry to continue to thrive.”
In 2013, Samoa welcomed 116.000 international tourists. International tourism represents 55% of all exports in Samoa (US$ 136 million).
UNWTO Open Letter
Samoa's State Owned enterprises are losing money
The author of an Asian Development Bank report says state-owned enterprises in Samoa and Fiji have been returning zero capital on equity and assets because of the influence of politicians.
The recently released report shows that state-owned enterprises, or SOEs, continue to strain economies, with Samoa and Fiji producing the poorest performance results of the nine countries studied.
Lore Darcy says both countries have a good legal framework around the practises of SOEs, but have struggled to implement the law.
"The influence of politicians on board decisions seems to persist so they're just really having a hard time being effective at implementing their legislation. Fiji's portfolio is much larger. I think that the reasons for its poor performance are similar to Samoa in that you know, you just don't have a political will to extract commercial returns sustainably from the SOEs and to hold Directors and Managers accountable for that."