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Tautai o Samoa awarded contract to operate fish market at Fagatogo Marketplace

Locally based Tautai o Samoa Longline Fishing Association has been awarded the contract to operate the Fagatogo Marketplace fish market, which was originally funded in 2012 and then renovated in 2014, according to the American Samoa fisheries ‘activities report’ presentation yesterday at the 165th Western Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting held from Mar. 15-17 in Honolulu and live-streamed online.


Part of Tautai’s proposal was presented during the meeting, via a slide-show, wherein they stated that their projected goal is to enhance the American Samoa fishing community by collaborating with fishermen and vessel owners; diversifying market opportunities; and optimizing yield for seafood products landed in the territory.


Among their objectives are: to provide a steady supply of fresh and frequent fish; to promote “Buy Local/Buy American Samoa”; to provide port storage and address frequent shortage of fish supply; and to provide fishing supplies to local fishermen.


Among the benefits noted would be availability of a variety of fish for local consumers at affordable prices and assisting fishermen by providing a market for species caught.


According to the presentation, products for the fish market include fresh fish (all species based on availability); frozen fish (all species based on availability); crustaceans and shellfish; prepared dishes (oka, poke, sashimi, fried fish) and supplies for fisherman — bait, hooks, etc.


According to the RFP, which was published in Samoa News late last year, a business plan was to be provided for review and the proposal must — among other things — show where the fresh products are from and indicate how the fish and seafood products are going to be supplied for the fish market.


The American Samoa fisheries activities report states that the local Commerce Department released a request for proposal (RFP) for someone to take over the fish market, which was previously leased to two alia fishermen to run as a private business, after the 2014 renovation.


According to the activities report, the two lease agreements for the fish market “were short-lived” and the fish market was closed for nearly three months. Additionally, one of the two fishermen had cited high costs as the reason he opted out of the lease; and he specifically mentioned electricity and competition from other boat owners, as well as the preference for most fishermen to sell their catch by the roadside.


Unfortunately, the plan for the fish market was never implemented as a Fishermen’s Cooperative, which was the original goal for setting up the fish market. However, ASG is hoping that at least 45% of locally caught fish will end up in the fish market.


According to DOC, three proposals were submitted from the community and on Feb. 22 this year, the contract was awarded to Tautai O Samoa, who was informed by Lafaele that the “occupation, operation, and management of the fish market” would now be taken over by the association.


Lafaele is quoted in the fishery activities report saying that the RFP was an invitation for fishermen to come and sell their catch free of charge at the fish market.