Starkist Samoa donates $50,000 in disaster relief

by | Apr 5, 2018 | American Samoa | Comments

The American seafood company Starkist, based in Pittsburgh, PA, recently donated $50,000 in disaster relief to American Samoa. Mr. Sangdong Kwon, the general manager of Starkist Samoa, the principal facility location for Starkist Co., noted, “StarKist Samoa is a member of this community and has been so for 55 years, and we want to do our part in supporting Governor Moliga’s (D) efforts to provide relief to the people of this great territory.”

Indeed, Governor Lolo Moliga accepted Starkist’s donation in a small ceremony at the Governor’s Office Conference Room. Though Moliga thanked StarKist Samoa for its donation to the ongoing relief efforts, there is a larger story at play here.

A week or so after Cyclone Gita, American Samoan political Chief Mauga Tasi Asuega argued that his county should be given some of the $6.5 million paid as a penalty by the StarKist corporation for the environmental laws they violated. Of this money, half has been allocated to the territorial government of American Samoa, serving to helping in disaster relief after Cyclone Gita and to make up for any damages done, semi-permanent or not, to the US territory.

The case is not being handled in American Samoa, however, but in federal court, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Starkist’s central office is located. Though the verdict is still out on how money will be split up, Mauga is arguing an adjusted settlement would help to improve and sustain the environmental quality of Pago Harbour, where the facility is located.

The $50,000 donation comes at an opportune time for all sides in this respect, offering Starkist an opportunity to improve its public image in American Samoa after having dealt a severe blow to the territory’s environment over some time. Additionally,the money may be used to help run a check-up of the performance of the Weather Service Office in American Samoa, which Governor Lolo Moliga wishes to monitor more closely in the wake of Cyclone Gita’s impact.