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StarKist to shut down next week for annual maintenance

StarKist workers enter the canning plant in Pago Pago, American Samoa.
Meanwhile, the cannery prepares to host the marine resources summer course

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — StarKist Samoa Inc. will shut down production next week for its annual July maintenance — as the cannery prepares to host an annual marine resources summer course for high school students.

Some cannery workers and their families told Samoa News about the StarKist shut down early next month, which coincides with the July 4th holiday for the US and its territories.

Responding to Samoa News inquiries, StarKist Co., corporate spokesperson, Michelle Faist confirmed that this is the “annual July shut down for maintenance work to the plant and equipment.”

The shutdown will run from June 29-July 7 and production will resume July 8th, said Faist. StarKist wishes everyone a safe and enjoyable July 4th holiday.”

According to the company’s public statements, StarKist employs 2,300 workers, making it the largest private employer in the territory.

Samoa News notes that every time there is a long-term shutdown, businesses that provide services to the cannery — transportation (including aiga buses) and the Atu’u based can plant which employs about 150 workers — are also affected. Unfortunately, for people who use buses that run a late night and early morning schedule for cannery workers, there will be no public transportation during the shutdown.


StarKist is preparing to kick off the annual Summer Fisheries & Marine Resource Management High School Course, one of the many local projects of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, which received an update of the summer course on Wednesday during the 178th Meeting in Honolulu. 

The Council’s three-day meeting ended yesterday.

“The summer course focuses on fisheries and a big part of the class is having students understand the role of the tuna industry and its importance to American Samoa’s economy,” said the Council’s American Samoa Island Coordinator, Nate Ilaoa, responding to Samoa News questions.

“As such, StarKist has hosted students each summer, showing them the plant, and the jobs and products produced in American Samoa,” said Ilaoa.

The summer course starts July 8th and ends July 26th.

“The goal is to learn about fisheries, their importance to culture, and the economy. Students learn about federal and local agencies that manage the resources, and also learn to fish, sail, and paddle,” Ilaoa continued.

Participants also become CPR and first-aid certified.

Paula Stevenson-McDonald, co-owner of South Pacific Watersports & Fitness, will be the lead instructor. “We have 15 students and 12 more on the waiting list for the three-week course,” Ilaoa said, adding that activities in past summer courses included water safety, tour of the cannery and different boats — which provide fish to the cannery — longline and purse seiner.

Students have also monitored coral reefs with DMWR staff and visited the weather station and mangroves at the Nu’uuli Pala Lagoon.

“The highlight is always the patrolling fishing trip, done towards the end of the program,” Ilaoa said during the presentation, which included a slideshow featuring photos of past students, posing in front of the StarKist banner.