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Starkist Samoa annual two-week holiday shut down underway

StarKist Samoa plant

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — StarKist Co., corporate spokesperson Michelle Faist said the last day of production for 2019 at StarKist Samoa was Friday, Dec. 20th and the plant will re-open Jan. 6, 2020.

“We have planned maintenance work scheduled” during the annual shutdown, said Faist early this week in response to Samoa News inquiries. She didn’t specify the type of maintenance work the plant will undergo, although there will still be a skeleton staff on duty.

The cannery holiday shutdown will affect businesses that cater to StarKist, such as buses — which transport workers — as well as the Talofa Systems American Samoa Inc., can manufacturing plant, which employs about 200 workers.

Both StarKist and Talofa Systems are owned by South Korean based Dongwon industries.

Cannery workers usually head to Samoa during the holiday break but with the many restrictions placed on travel — including the ongoing changes to travel permits approved by the Health Department due to the measles outbreak —  it remains unclear whether many of the workers will head to Apia for two weeks.

Meanwhile, reports out of Pago Pago International Airport indicate that travel restrictions due to the measles outbreak has greatly affected the airlines serving the inter-Samoa route. The greatest impact, say officials in Samoa, are the incoming flights from Apia, which are nearly empty.

For the Samoa government owned MV Lady Naomi’s weekly sail between the two Samoas, Samoa Shipping Corporation announced last week that it was no longer bringing in passengers, only cargo from Apia, due to travel restrictions in American Samoa. 

However, outgoing sail is still taking passengers to Samoa, according to Polynesian Shipping, the local agent for the vessel.