More recruitment by StarKist anticipated

There could be employment for Samoans in the neighbouring country of American Samoa as the Starkist fish processing plant looks for workers.

This was one of the outcomes from the third Atoa o Samoa Executive Meeting.

This is following labour mobility issues that were raised in the meeting. A report by the Press Secretariat on Thursday this week also highlighted 25 other key outcomes of the meeting.

For the Starkist recruitment, emphasis was placed ensuring that the safety and rights of workers must be prioritised.

“It is widely acknowledged that people are attracted to the higher wage rates in American Samoa,” the report reads.

“It is not unusual to find that there is often a diversity of skills sets amongst those that are recruited such as electricians, and mechanics who are then placed in appropriate jobs within the company and not necessarily on the cannery floor.

“Often when workers want to switch employment, they are advised to retain their sponsors and notify the Immigration Board.

“Requests for more workers are anticipated in the near future but must follow the endorsed procedures for recruitment through both governments.”

There are approximately 1600 workers that are currently employed by the U.S based company.

Last year in September, Samoa’s Agriculture Minister, Laauli Leuatea Schmidt visited the StarKist company during a visit in American Samoa and said the management of the Pago Pago-based tuna canning Starkist Company accompanied the Agriculture Director to discuss more employment opportunities for the people of Samoa.  

He added that the delegation also met with the Minister of Commerce Industry and Labour, Leatinu’u Wanye So’oialo to discuss more employment opportunities.

Meanwhile, a report released by a Pacific fisheries body late last month warned of the effects of climate change on the prospects of the Pago Pago-based StarKist Samoa cannery. 

The warning – in a report issued by the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPRFMC) said it could have long-term implications for the 1,800 Samoan citizens that reportedly make up the 2,000-plus workforce at the cannery in American Samoa.

The WPRFMC report highlighted the growing challenge of climate change to the multi-million-dollar tuna industry in American Samoa, according to an article published on the commercial fisheries website Fishermen’s News.

“As sea level continues to rise, the future of businesses like the StarKist Samoa cannery, located at sea level in Pago Pago Harbour, are in question,” stated the report. 

“The cannery provides over 80 per cent of private employment in American Samoa, as well as nationals of other Pacific Island countries and territories, including Samoa, Niue, Tokelau and Tonga.

“Tuna exports from American Samoa are valued at some USD$353 million annually, with canned tuna comprising 99.5 percent of the total.

“Loss of this industry due to the implications of climate change would be devastating to American Samoa and the communities it supports,” the WPRDMC said. The article said much of the work focusing on climate-resilient fisheries in the Western Pacific is the result of efforts led by the WPRFMC, NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Centre, and Pacific Islands Regional Office, with funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce.