Samoan News, Tala Samoa
Samoa talo exports more than triple
Talo exports from Samoa to New Zealand have more than tripled, increasing from four to fifteen containers a month.
The rise in exports is being credited as a result of the Samoa Manufacturers and Exporters, or SAME, trade show in Auckland in November last year.
The president of SAME, Tagaloa Eddie Wilson, says figures on export earnings from 2013 were at 1 point 4 million US dollars, and has risen to about 4 million dollars at the end of last year.
Tagaloa says Australia has given the green light for new varieties of talo from Samoa to be exported, and they are expected to be on showcase at a trade show in Sydney in March.
Australian authorities however are requiring a scientific clearance to confirm the blight fungus that devastated the old talo variety, is no longer present.
Japan against protecting local tuna supplies from overfishing
WATCH Pacific island countries enforce their own measures against overfishing of local tuna fishery following the dramatic failure by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to agree to a reduction in fishing efforts at its annual negotiation sessions in Samoa last December.
Already the eight island countries that are members of the powerful Pacific sub-regional grouping of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) comprising the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu are threatening to enforce reductions in fishing efforts in their own waters.
Especially worrying for PNA member countries is the fast declining stock of the much sought after Bigeye tuna, in high demand for the world’s sashimi (raw fish) market. Scientists are warning that Bigeye stock is at 16 per cent of its historic population, and PNA members, teaming up with their nine other Pacific island neighbours that together are members of the Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency had wanted the WCPFC to reign in overfishing in the four high sea pockets it manages in the Pacific Ocean.
However, five days of negotiations in Apia’s sprawling but modern convention centre in Faleata, a suburb of Samoa’s capital, produced zero consensus on reducing fishing efforts on bigeye in the high seas. Foreign countries that fish in the Pacific are referred to as Distance Water Fishing Nations (DWFN), and one of them, Japan was identified as the country that shot down the PNA and FFA proposal.
“Once again the interests of the small Pacific Island nations have been railroaded at this high level meeting raising questions of the ability of the commission to address the overfished stocks and put a limit on stocks that are nearing overfishing,” a disappointed CEO of the PNA Office Dr Transform Aqorau said at the end of the failed WCPFC negotiations in Samoa. “The PNA will regroup and revise its strategy to work outside the ambit of WCPFC and use the existing commercial arrangements to address overfishing in our waters.”
By Lanuola Tupua, Photos by Tuifao Tumua NUS
Close to a hundred National University of Samoa students have been awarded scholarships to study in overseas universities this year.
They were congratulated at a ceremony held at the University yesterday.
A Prayer Service was conducted by Rev. Siaosi Salesulu who gave the students words of encouragement, telling them that they were now young Samoan Ambassadors and as such, “you should always stick with God."
“Don’t let abuse and praise get to you,” he advised, reminding “it is the prayers of Samoa that you walk with faith and in the end you shall find success."
In his Keynote Address, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegoi, who is also the Chairman of the Scholarship and Training Committee, encouraged the scholars to use the opportunities that are being made available to them wisely.
He reminded them that “you have an obligation to return to Samoa after your studies to serve and apply your newly-acquired knowledge” to benefit your country.
He advised: “Grab the opportunity with both hands and make the most of it.
“As sons and daughters of Samoa, and as recipients of scholarships overseas, go with the thought of how you can help pave the way forward for the development of your country, and what you can contribute when you return.
“Following the completion of your studies you are expected to return to serve and use your newly acquired knowledge for the betterment of the country.”
Tuilaepa also reminded the students that many scholars had been returned home before completion of their scholarships.
“Many have brought back and no more scholarships will be wasted on them,” recalled Tuilaepa.
He said: “They were brought back because they caused trouble, they liked drinking and clubbing, and they ended up in fights, especially those going to Fiji.”
He then acknowledged the generous assistance of Samoa’s perennial partners whose support was vitally invaluable in Samoa’s struggle as a developing nation.
It’s understood that 40 scholars are sponsored by the Australian government, and 53 are sponsored by the New Zealand government.
Seven are sponsored by the government of Samoa.
Both the Acting High Commissioners of New Zealand and Australia, Ms Sophie Vickers and Ms Rosemary McKay respectively, spoke at the ceremony. They offered their congratulations and wished the scholars well also.
They assured them that their countries’ investment in their academic studies were vitally important to the development of Samoa as an Independent Nation.
This year also marks the first three-year trial programme of a scheme aimed at addressing the shortages in the workforce in Education and Health.
Charged Samoa editor suspended
The Samoa government newspaper editor, Tupuola Terry Tavita, is reported to have been suspended effective this week to await the outcome of a police investigation and his court case.
A reliable government source says the Prime Minister, Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, has called a meeting with the staff of the Savali newspaper and the press secretariat, in which he addressed the matter and made known his decision to suspend the editor.
The editor is charged with one count of attempting to rape a journalism student during a trip to the village of A'ufaga on Aleipata in December to report on a cultural event.
The prime minister has assigned senior staff to take charge while Tupuola Terry Tavita is suspended.
He is due to appear in court on January 19th.
Samoa opposition leader defends right to criticise Bill
The leader of Samoa's opposition is defending his right to critique a controversial new bill, saying his concern is not a sign of weakness.
If successful, the Citizenship Investment Bill would allow a person from any country, who is willing to invest over one and a half million US dollars in Samoa, to become a citizen.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi has hit out at the bill's critics, calling them weak people.
However the leader of the Tautua Samoa Party, has told the Samoa Observer that the Government should take any concerns about the bill onboard and consider it constructive feedback from people who care about the future of Samoa.
Palusalue Fa'apo II says the Bill indicates the Government is broke and the Prime Minister is desperate to generate revenue.
Palusalue is the latest member of parliament to speak out against the Prime Minister's newest bill.
He says Samoa's foreign debt is more than a billion pa'anga and the Government needs help if it is resorting to selling Samoan citizenship.
Vietnam cleared by FBI in laundering probe
Separate investigations into the illegal transfer of $1.2 million US dollars from an American Samoa Government account to an unknown Vietnam account, has confirmed that Vietnam was not involved in the act.
Pago Pago Harbour, American Samoa
In August 2011, the local government discovered the illegal wire transfer of funds to an unknown account at the Vietnam International Bank, where the money has remained frozen while the Federal Bureau of Investigation and security officials in Vietnam launched their own investigations.
Congressman Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin says over the weekend the Vietnamese government informed his office that the $1.2 million will be returned very soon to American Samoa, with all investigations - both by the FBI and the government of Vietnam - now complete.
It's unclear at this point as to when the money will be returned to the territorial government.
The $1.2 million was part of federal grant money.
Visa applications to visit America now processed and printed in Apia
The United States Embassy in Apia will now be able to process applications and print visitor visas without sending them to the Auckland office.
The Charge d'affaires in Samoa, Peter Ganser, says the move is due to an upgrade of the process system which cost 100 thousand US dollars.
The new technology has eased the backlog in demand for visa appointments and will allow the Embassy office to provide a much improved interviewing experience for visa applicants.
Mr Ganser says the technology will eliminate the need to ship the passports of approved applicants to Auckland for processing.
Former Finance Minister Faumuina faces more allegations
Samoa's parliament is expected to debate this week whether to file criminal charges against civil servant and former Cabinet Minister Faumuina Tiatia Liuga who is alleged to have been involved in corruption and misusing public assets.
Faumuina, who was responsible for the Samoa Land Corporation, has been implicated in a report by the Chief Auditor and a parliamentary committee has recommended charges be filed.
The leader of the Opposition, Palusalue Faapo II, says the Prime Minister earlier told the house the committee's findings would be discussed in this week's last session of the house.
Faumuina stepped down as Minister of Finance after facing criticism from both government MPs and the opposition over his involvement in the alleged mishandling of money and the administration of the Samoa Land Corporation.
Samoa increasing capacity for local exports to foreign markets
The Samoa Association of Manufacturers & Exporters (SAME) launched its Food Safety System Training and International (HACCP) Certification programmes at the Hotel Elisa Training Facility in Apia. The programme is geared towards helping Samoan food and beverage manufacturers and exporters meet International standards for Food Processing and Safety & Hygiene Management.
The 4 phased programme will lead to the International Certification ISO-22000. It is an extension of an earlier International certification programme offered by SAME where 8 local companies achieved ISO 9001:2008. 11 companies are currently in the final phases of certification, whilst 9 companies will be certified by end of November and 2 more in Februrary 2015.
18 SAME company members are registered for the new Food Safety Management Program. Companies include a wide spectrum of processors/manufacturers/exporters from Food and Drink manufacturers, processed agriculture-based products, Processed Meat Products; Fresh & Frozen Taro and Breadfruit; and Breadfruit flour.
Deputy Prime Minister-Fonotoe Nuufesili Lauofo opened the launch saying “ SAME and the Private Sector have taken responsibility in enhancing capability in ensuring Food Safety & Management at the highest level and gaining International certification which provides local and international recognition for food & beverage products produced by Samoa.” This will no doubt increase import substitution as well increase export capacity for Samoan Made Food & Beverage Products.
He encouraged the 18 Companies to complete the program and earn their international certification by the end of 2015 in line with the SAME program.
The SAME Food Safety Management/HACCP program is sponsored by the Pacific Horticultural & Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) Program. New Zealand International Certification Limited was selected by SAME and PHAMA from 3 applicants.
The PHAMA Program is funded by Australia and New Zealand. Both the Australian High Commissioner HE Sue Langford and the New Zealand High Commissioner, HE Jackie Frizelle were present at the launch and were highly supportive of the SAME initiative.
SAME and the Government have already embarked on a “Buy Samoa Made” Export Drive in New Zealand and will launch a similar program in Australia in March 2015. The aim is raise local awareness of Samoa Made goods and services for export, but ultimately to increase demand for locally made products and Samoa’s export products.
The initiative is strengthened by Processors; Manufacturers & Exporters gaining international accreditation.
Tuna showdown looms at Samoa conference
Small Pacific island states and powerful foreign fishing nations are heading for a showdown over management of the world's largest tuna fishery.
The islands want the annual meeting of the influential Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Samoa to limit fishing for bigeye, a tuna prized by sashimi markets in Asia, America and Europe.
They also want limits placed on catches of other tunas to maintain stocks.
Nearly 60 per cent of global tuna supplies comes from the central and western Pacific which has been 'fished unsustainably, in contradiction to strong scientific and management advice', said Amanda Nickson, director of Global Tuna Conservation at the Washington-based Pew Charitable Trusts.
Despite increasing concern over declining tuna stocks in the Pacific's $US6.0 billion ($A6.49 billion) fishery, the WCPFC has been unable to agree on measures that will limit fishing to what scientists see as sustainable levels.
The WCPFC includes the so-called 'distant water' fleets from as far afield as Europe, China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.
Battle lines have now been drawn between these nations, which dominate fishing in the region, and the Pacific islands which have banded together to wield greater influence in the industry.
'The tuna commission needs to change its way of doing business and how it treats small island developing states,' Glen Joseph, the Marshall Islands director of fisheries, said ahead of the December 1-5 summit.
Joseph is frustrated by what he says is a lack of action on high seas fishing, a WCPFC responsibility, to back the conservation measures eight Pacific nations, known as the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), have imposed in their economic zones.
The PNA has put an action plan on the table at the summit to cutback the catches of long-line vessels which target bigeye and yellowfin.
They also want to reduce the ability of purse seine fishing boats that use large nets to scoop out tonnes of tuna at once.
In the 10 years since the WCPFC was established, several Asian nations have refused to provide their catch data which is a requirement of membership.
- See more at: http://www.skynews.com.au/news/world/asiapacific/2014/11/29/tuna-showdown-looms-at-samoa-conference.html#sthash.tSvD7Nga.dpuf
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.
Samoa airline revival mooted
Tu'uu says this follows concerns raised by many of the travelling public over delay of international flights, alleging this was the result of pilots working far too many hours.
He has told parliament Virgin Samoa and Air New Zealand have been seen as more friendly to each other rather than competing.
The Prime Minister, Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, says the joint venture deal between Polynesian Airlines and Virgin Australia will be reviewed this year.
He says the government has a long-term vision for the development of tourism with a plan to upgrade Faleolo International Airport.
This, he says, will open up to more competition with other big airlines.
Gov. Moliga resubmits bill to limit ability of Businesses to sponsor foreigners
American Samoa's governor, Lolo Moliga, is resubmitting to the Fono a bill which would limit the ability of businesses to sponsor foreigners.
The bill was approved by the House in the last special session but the Senate did not act on it.
The bill would allow only corporations certified by the Attorney General to sponsor foreigners aliens.
Under it, corporations must provide proof of financial responsibility, proof of timely payment of local taxes, fees and other government charges, an established business plan and proof of good corporate citizenship.
Governor Lolo is concerned that under existing law, an American Samoa corporation may be formed and after the articles of incorporation are approved becomes wholly owned and operated by a foreign national lawfully residing in the territory.
That corporation could then sponsor its owner/operator and any other foreigners.
Suspended Samoa newspaper editor accused of breaching bail
The police in Samoa are looking into an alleged breach of bail conditions by the suspended government newspaper editor, Tupuola Terry Tavita.
It comes after the adopted father of the complainant wrote to the Prime Minister and the Attorney General asking for help, after friends and family members of the editor approached the victim and her family to withdraw the complaint.
The police say one of the bail conditions is for the accused not to approach the victim.
However, the family of the victim wrote that they have been approached four times, and said that they were told the Prime Minister and Attonery General were behind the efforts to withdraw the case.
Neither could be contacted for comment.
American Samoa delegate sworn in to US Congress
Aumua Amata Radewagen has been sworn in as American Samoa's delegate to the US Congress.
She took two oaths of office, one with colleagues on the House floor and earlier a ceremonial swearing-in by House Speaker John Boehner in his Office.
Aumua who is the first woman to hold American Samoa's seat in Congress said she was elated.
"It's a very humbling experience, I am just in awe by everything and just to be here at the tip of the leadership in the United States. I thank God and I thank the people of American Samoa for giving me this opportunity to serve them."
Aumua replaces long time delegate for American Samoa Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin who served 13 terms.
She is expected in the terriotry this weekend to meet with the Governor and Fono leaders to discuss issues affecting American Samoa they want her to focus on.
She will also give a report on her first week in office.
American Samoa flu outbreak continues
An influenza outbreak in American Samoa is showing no signs of abating with hospitals and health centres continuing to be inundated with cases.
Department of Health epidemiologist, Scott Anesi, says authorities are seeing a rapid increase in the number of people presenting with flu-like symptoms including fever, sore throat, body aches and a running nose.
Mr Anesi says the department saw 305 cases in the week ending December 21st and that rose to 400 people the following week.
The LBJ Hospital has been crowded with flu patients and people have been waiting for up to three hours to be seen.
Multiple offender sentenced in American Samoa
An American Samoan man who went on a robbery spree robbing several busineses and homes, including the home of a church minister, has been sentenced to 16 years in prison.
Joseph Iakopo is acccused of fourteen burglaries, which occured over several weeks in early 2013.
Court documents say the robberies covered about six villages on the main island of Tutuila.
According to court documents, the defendant stole more than $3,000 from a church safe, which was at the home of a church minister, and more than $2,000 worth of merchandise from stores, two restaurants and private homes.
Samoa News reports that Iakopo faced 34 charges, ranging from first and second degree burglary, attempted burglary, stealing, first degree assault and property damage.
Iakopo appeared last Friday in court for sentencing where the defence sought leniency, but the prosecutor argued Iakopo was a career criminal who had not learned his lesson from an earlier conviction.
The court agreed and sentenced Iakopo to 16 years in prison.
Miss Samoa wins the Ms. South Pacific 2014
The 20-year-old Law and Music University student from New Zealand also scooped the two main categories for the pageant, best talent and best interview.
Miss Cook Islands, Antonina Browne, was the first runner-up, Miss Fiji, Nanise Rainima, was second runner up, Miss American Samoa, Anneliese Sword was third runner up and Miss Papua New Guinea - Grace Nugi was fourth runner up.
Miss Nauru - Kauai Oppenheimer won the Miss Internet, Miss Fiji won Miss Photogenic, Miss Niue, Nina Nemaia was voted Miss Personality, and Miss American Samoa won the National Tourism Award.
American Samoa man accused of ruckus on flight
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (AP) — By FILI SAGAPOLUTELE, Associated Press
A man has been accused of hurling racial slurs and curse words at a flight crew, creating such a ruckus on a flight from Honolulu to the territory of American Samoa that the pilots nearly turned the plane around.
Two flight attendants and a pilot told police that Duke Ueli Viena was intoxicated when he got on the flight Friday night in Honolulu, according to court records. He wanted more drinks while other passengers were boarding the flight.
After the Hawaiian Airlines flight took off, he swore and made racial comments toward flight attendants, the crew alleged in court documents.
Pilots almost turned back to Honolulu before other passengers and Samoan chiefs on the plane were able to calm him. Viena, of the Samoan capital of Pago Pago, was arrested when the plane landed in the U.S. territory.
Viena faces a misdemeanor charge of public peace disturbance and will appear in territorial district court next week after making an initial appearance Monday. His public defender declined to comment.
FBI Honolulu spokesman Thomas Simon Jr. says the agency is investigating to see if federal charges are warranted.
"Once we have a better idea exactly what occurred on the flight, we will consult with the U.S. Attorney's Office who will make a decision whether the suspect will face federal charges," he said from Honolulu.
Hawaiian Airlines spokeswoman Ann Botticelli declined to comment, citing privacy issues of the airline's passengers and crew.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release) — Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia’aina recently approved $1,260,000 million in grant assistance to the American Samoa government through the Office of Insular Affairs’ Capital Improvement Project Program.
The grant will be used to fund a new 2-story classroom building in the village of Utulei at the Samoana High School, one of the territory’s six public high schools.
“This project will replace a building that had been condemned and deemed unsafe for students at the Samoana High School in American Samoa,” said Assistant Secretary Kia’aina. “It is operating at full capacity and it is critically important that these students have a safe environment for learning and education. We are pleased to support the students of American Samoa in this way.”
The assistant secretary, on behalf of the secretary of the Interior, is responsible for coordinating federal policy with respect to the territories of American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and administering and overseeing U.S. federal assistance provided to the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau under the Compacts of Free Association. The assistant secretary executes these responsibilities through the Office of Insular Affairs whose mission is to foster economic opportunities, promote government efficiency, and improve the quality of life for the people of the insular areas.
Samoans admit 'there's an issue' with women abandoning babies
Samoan leaders in New Zealand are calling on their community to show compassion towards a woman who left her baby in a Sydney drain to die.
Community leaders say that often Samoan women who are unmarried and pregnant fear shaming their families.
"I am urging the community to be supportive of what is happening and learn from it - someone in your area next to you is having that problem now," Sooalo Setu Mua said.
This week's tragic case has been a hot topic at Radio Samoa, with community leaders pleading with listeners to be compassionate.
Sydney drain baby: Mum knew he could die, court hears
They say that many people have become incensed by the incident, prompting calls to look at the reasons why a number of Samoan women abandon their babies after birth.
"A lot of the upset people are Samoans because they value the name of Samoa but at the same time people have come to their senses that yes there is an issue," Teleiai Edwin Puni said.
A 30-year-old woman has been charged with the attempted murder of her baby boy after dumping him down a drain in Quakers Hill. He was found five days later by a passing cyclist.
It's not the first time such an incident has rocked the Samoan community - in 2009 a baby was discovered in a rubbish bin on a flight to New Zealand.
Her Samoan mother had given birth to her after hiding her pregnancy.
Similarly, in 2006 a Samoan scholarship student was convicted of infanticide after throwing her newborn out a Dunedin window.
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.”
American Samoa mulls informer plan
The acting Commissioner of Public Safety, Save Liuato Tuitele, first revealed the informant initiative at a Senate hearing this week about last year's unresolved shooting incidents.
Save said the idea was to offer a cash reward to entice members of the public with information that can help with police investigation to come forward.
He said there may be people who know something but are afraid to contact police.
Governor Lolo says he supports the programme as anything that will help police with their investigation is welcome.
American Samoan Women who force young girls into Prostitution are going to jail
Two women in American Samoa have been found guilty of promoting prostitution and sentenced to 28 months in prison.
The owner of a bar in Atuu, Faasaina Park, and her second in charge, Lusia Tuai, have been convicted of assault and forcing two women from Samoa to engage in prostitution.
The women's lawyers asked for probative sentences but the prosecution argued the women should receive significant jail terms because their prostitution enterprise was an ongoing activity that started as early as 2010.
According to the prosecution, the enterprise included luring women from other countries under false pretenses to come and work in American Samoa.
The prosecution argued that neither women has taken responsibility for their actions or apologised to their victims.
American Samoa Govt to pay thousands in overtime wages
American Samoa's Education Department has agreed to pay more than 17,000 US dollars in overtime wages to 20 employees.
It will also give almost 6,675 hours of paid leave to 44 workers who can use them as compensation for unpaid overtime hours of work in the future.
The US Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division found the Department paid bus drivers and technology department employees only for their scheduled weekly hours regardless of hours actually worked.
By doing so, overtime hours worked were under-reported.
The division's director in Hawaii says shifts such as transporting school children to extra-curricular events, had also been paid separately without contemplation of an overtime premium, as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Terence Trotter says the Department appreciates the American Samoa Government's full cooperation in resolving the matter.
More scrutiny for Samoa's theology students
The Congregational Christian Church of Samoa is for the first time checking criminal records when screening new students for the church's Theological College.
The chairman of the Elders Committee or Komiti a le 'au Toea'ina, the Reverend Elder To'ese Peleti To'ailoa, revealed the decision after screening 17 new students.
He says during the four-year period of studies, church leaders had found that some of the students they had accepted had criminal records.
The health of students is also being taken into account.
The chairman says physical work can be quite heavy for students, and those with possible heart problems must be cleared by a medical report.
The church has also decided to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for students found drinking alcohol.
Previously, students found drinking were suspended for two to three years, but the Reverend Elder To'ailoa says the termination of studies is now the only option.
American Samoa tuna cannery gets $70 million from Bellevue company
By FILI SAGAPOLUTELE
The Associated Press
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa — A Washington state company is making a $70 million investment in a tuna cannery in the U.S. territory of American Samoa.
The products from American Samoa will carry the “Made In USA” label, said officials with Bellevue-based Tri Marine International. The company took over the lease of a government property three years ago after another cannery closed.
Tri Marine’s plant is expected to employ some 1,500 workers when fully operational and is operated by the company’s Samoa Tuna Process, which is in the seaside village of Atu’u.
American Samoa’s economy is dependent on the tuna-cannery industry.
“We are $70 million confident of our investment in the cannery project,” Tri Marine Chief Executive Officer Renato Curto said.
“Ultimately, our decision to invest came down to our belief that tuna is a good, nutritious product, that tuna stocks can be sustainably managed for the long-term and that processing in the islands is the right thing to do,” he said.
Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga said the territorial government stands firm in its support of Tri Marine, especially on this latest investment that will boost the local economy and provide more jobs.
The investment will allow the company to “remain competitive in this very competitive global industry,” Moliga said.
Lewis Wolman, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, said the new cannery will also have an economic impact on local vendors and the shipping industry. Plus the local economy will benefit from the money spent from workers’ paychecks, Wolman said.
An inauguration is planned for Jan. 24.
The new cannery will focus on the U.S. market, where tuna products from American Samoa are duty-free, said Curto.
He added that this helps offset the higher cost of processing in the territory as compared to countries like Thailand, Philippines and China.
“We are targeting retail and food-service clients who want to know where their tuna was caught, who caught it, how it was caught and where it was processed,” Curto said.
The company plans to produce private label and its own brand of tuna markets.
The brand is made by Tri Marine subsidiary, The Tuna Store, and it is already on shelves under the name Ocean Naturals.
NZ aid for Samoa to host SIDS conference under attack
A New Zealand advocacy group says New Zealand funding assistance to last September's Small Islands Developing States conference in Samoa was a shameful waste of taxpayers' money.
The Taxpayers' Union says New Zealand provided 7 million US dollars for the four-day event in Apia, including the cost of hiring a cruise liner for the large delegations.
The Union's executive director, Jordan Williams, says it seems inconceivable the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade would think this a good use of taxpayers' money.
He says the money spent is about half of the annual New Zealand aid budget to Samoa.
Mr Williams says if the money had been used for genuine economic development or investment, no one would complain.
But he says taxpayers forked out for a conference which achieved a document that 'reaffirmed', 'acknowledged', 'recognised' and 'recommitted' to what he calls various bureaucratic platitudes.
Mr Williams says New Zealand should be funding measures to develop economies, not chartering liners for conferences.
Two CEO's of Samoan govt. departments are suspended pending investigations by PSC
By Lagi Keresoma, Talamua
APIA: THURSDAY 18 DECEMBER 2014: Two Chief Executive Officers have been suspended while the Public Service Commission investigates allegations against them.
The CEOs are Masinalupe Tusipa Masinalupe of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration and Papali’i Malotau Malietoa who heads the Electoral Commission Office.
The suspensions were confirmed by an official of PSC to the media.
The allegations against the CEOs are highlighted in letters written by some staff members and a private citizen and given to the PSC early this year.
The PSC action follows questions raised by the media with the Prime Minister in the recent workshop that focused on Violence in the Workplace. The media questioned why the allegations in these letters against some CEOs have taken so long to be investigated and resolved.
The allegations include nepotism, bribery and several internal issues.
During the workshop on violence in workplace, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi emphasized the need for a healthy and good working relationship between the top officials and the staff in any Ministry.
He said opportunities should be given to all employees of any Ministry or organisation including opportunities for Number 2 and Number 3 to travel overseas for meetings instead of the CEO traveling all the time.
Tonga and American Samoa sign deal
A Tonga government owned vessel will begin making regular trips to American Samoa bringing cargo to and from the island kingdom.
The Niuvakai is scheduled to arrive in the territory this Friday to begin its regular trips to the territory.
It will deliver agricultural produce from Tonga for Samoa and American Samoa and will take back fuel and US products to Tonga.
The Kingdom of Tonga and American Samoa trade arrangement began earlier this year with a visit from a trade delegation from Tonga.
Our correspondent says follow up discussions were held during the Small Islands Development States conference in Apia, Samoa.
Samoa signs Agreement to conserve sharks
The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme congratulated Samoa for its environmental leadership as Samoa signed a global Memorandum of Understanding to conserve migratory sharks.
SPREP commemorated the closing of Samoa’s National Environment Week on Friday, celebrating the special signing of the Migratory Shark MoU under the auspices of the Convention on Migratory Species. This now makes it the sixth Oceania country to sign on.
Statistics show that approximately 100 million sharks and their relatives are taken annually mainly for their fins but also for their meat, liver oil, leather and cartilage.
“The Environment Week and this MoU signing underlines the environmental leadership role of Samoa in the Pacific region,” said Mr. David Sheppard, Director-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
“Samoa’s environmental programmes, such as the one million tree programme, improved management of waste and water, and practical steps to address invasive species – are seen as models of best practice for our region. SPREP congratulates the Government of Samoa on these programmes and achievements.”
Sharks play a significant role in the culture of Samoa, featured in myths, legends, songs and proverbs. As the top predators that have roamed oceans for 400 million years, they play an important component in regulating and balancing the health of global marine environment.
“By signing the CMS MOU on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks, it is our step towards fighting the international battle for the protection of not only the migratory sharks listed but for other sharks species that are endangered,” said Associate Minister for Environment, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga.
“The status of Samoa’s sharks especially the migratory sharks are also considered data deficient. Although, seven migratory sharks listed in the MOU are found in the Pacific Island region, only six are found in Samoa. There has been no dedicated assessment to understand their population status and threats impacting their survival in the waters of Samoa – a gap in our knowledge which must be addressed.”
Samoa now joins 37 other signatories in the MoU which has become a global vehicle to conserve migratory sharks. It is also one of the countries in the Pacific islands region who also protect sharks in their Exclusive Economic Zone through a sanctuary. Other Pacific islands include the Cook Islands, Republic of Marshall Islands, Palau and Tokelau.
The Migratory Shark MoU encourages the management of sharks in recognition of the critical role they play in marine ecosystems and local economies while making an allowance for their long term sustainable use where appropriate. It encourages the application of an ecosystem based and precautionary approach to conservation measures for migratory sharks and currently protects seven species of migratory sharks with a possibility that this number will grow.
At the 25th Annual Meeting of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, SPREP members endorsed the preparation of a Pacific Shark Action Plan in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the Forum Fisheries Agency for which the Migratory Shark MoU will play a key feature.
The signing of the CMS Migratory shark MoU and the closing of the Samoa National Environment Week took place at the National University of Samoa Fale on Friday evening. It was held while the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species is being hosted in Ecuador and ends on the 9 November. Also to sign the Migratory Shark MoU at the CMS COP 11 was Sweden.
Anger in Samoa at failed land mediation
Samoa's Public Trust and the Land and Survey division are embroiled in a land claim and corruption allegations dating back to before independence.
The family of Fuimaono Mika Tiariki alleges 80 hectares of Apia township is legally owned by them.
Speaking after an unsuccessful mediation process this week a family representative, Edmond Parilo, says the family has been trying for 55 years to establish the legitimacy of their claim.
The family says the land had been purchased by their great great grandfather, Tiariki, a Cook Islander, who married their Samoan great great grandmother during the German administration.
Mr Parillo says they hope revealing the truth through further planned mediation will lead to a clean out of the system.
"So that every Samoan, from a child to a young person to an adult to a poor farmer, to the teacher, the nurse, the doctor, the police officer, can have the ability to stand up and speak it as it is."
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.