FishWise visits Tri Marine in American Samoa
Photo credit: Eleanor Partridge
In November and December of 2015, FishWise staff Mariah Boyle and Elsie Tanadjaja took a trip to the South Pacific to learn more about tuna fisheries and processing facilities. Tuna are impressive fish – they’re large, migrate across and between the world’s oceans, and fetch some of the highest market prices for a seafood product. Tuna is also the third most consumed seafood in this country, behind shrimp and salmon, with fresh and frozen tuna steaks and sashimi being sold alongside the American staple of canned tuna. During this trip, Mariah and Elsie had the privilege of visiting several countries and companies, one of which was Tri Marine based in American Samoa, a small island territory in the South Pacific Ocean. This small island developing territory is one of world’s major tuna processors and is one of the most important commercial fishing ports under the U.S. flag.
Working with other businesses, governments, and regulators for increasing sustainability of tuna resources, Tri Marine has grown into one of the world’s largest tuna supply companies. The company is unique in that is in involved in all stages of the tuna supply chain – fishing, trading, processing, and marketing – and has developed a long standing investment in strong sustainability and traceability standards. As of June, 2016, Tri Marine’s fleet of ten American Samoa-based tuna purse seiners have become MSC certified.
Visiting Tri Marine’s new, state-of-the-art processing facility, Samoa Tuna Processors (STP) was impressive. Opening in January 2014, the space covers nearly 40,000 square feet with capacity to store over 5,000 tons of tuna. Mariah and Elsie were able to tour the facility which houses high tech traceability systems to track tuna from vessel to can, strengthening the traceability of Tri Marine’s products as well as the ability to fulfill private label orders. Tri Marine’s advances in traceability can be seen in its Ocean Naturals products that only source responsibly caught tuna. Consumers can enter codes found on their cans or pouches of tuna into Ocean Natural’s website to learn more about the origins of their tuna. An added benefit to the state of the art facility is the ability for fish that are received directly from Tri Marine’s fleet of vessels to be sized and separated by species before being processed by the local plant.
Sustainability for Tri Marine touches on more than just the environment. Tri Marine’s new canning facility, Samoa Tuna Processors, was a collaboration between the tuna company and the local community. This investment is a demonstration of Tri Marine’s commitment on sustainability, quality, community, and collaboration. Beyond the ability of the cannery to process upwards of 1 million cans of tuna each day, it can provide employment to 1,500 local community members. American Samoa’s economy is dependent on the tuna canning industry and Tri Marine’s new facility, which filled a large economic void left behind after Chicken of the Sea’s Samoa Packing closed its doors in 2009.
Tri Marine prides itself on placing a high standard on generating employment and improving the standard of living for its employees, and the STP facility is no exception. By investing in regions close to fisher’s resources and establishing strong relationships with local communities and its members, stakeholders can better manage the local marine resources and ensure that the benefits are captured by the American Samoan community members, their families, and local government.
FishWise would like to extend a warm thank you to Tri Marine for allowing our staff to spend a few days touring their impressive facility as well as their purse seine tuna fishing vessels. Getting a better understanding of Tri Marine’s traceability systems sheds light on the work we do at FishWise and continues a positive and forward-thinking dialogue on how important it is to continue implementing and improving upon tuna sustainability and traceability within the industry.