Minister to investigate Pago meat ban
The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Lopaoo Natanielu Mua, is planning to visit American Samoa to get to the bottom of the territory's ban on importing Samoan meat.
During an interview with the Samoa Observer, the Minister said he has not withdrawn a public announcement that the ban has been lifted, until he gets clarification from American Samoa.
The Minister was asked for a comment after the American Samoa Governor's Chief of Staff, Fiu Johnny Saelua, said the ban on importing meat from Samoa in fact remained in place.
Fiu's comments contradicted what the Samoan Government had been told.
“There is no official paper work on the meat ban and therefore the ban remains intact,” Fiu said.
But Minister Lopao'o disputed this saying the decision to lift the ban was made by the former Director of American Samoa's Department of Agriculture, Filifaatali Mike Fuiava.
“It was them that told us we can export the meat again,” insisted Lopao’o.
“It was the Director who came and we met and gave the okay and now they are saying otherwise. I’m not going to pull down the notice [on the ban being lifted] until we meet with them to clarify these issues.”
Asked when they will meet, Lopao’o said when he visits the neighbouring territory.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (M.A.F.) issued a public notice earlier this month saying Samoa had been given the green light to continue exports after the ban was supposed to be lifted.
In the notice it stated that locally produced raw and cooked meat and meat products from Samoa were now allowed into Am. Samoa for personal consumption and funerals.
“A person who intends to take any locally produced raw or cooked meat to Am. Samoa must within 24 hours of travel, take the meat/meat products to the M.A.F. Quarantine Division at Matautu-tai for inspection,” reads the notice.
Inspections are free of charge.
“Where an inspection approves the meat/meat products are free from pests and diseases and is safe for human consumption, and the amount and type of raw and or cooked meat which must not exceed the limits specified," the statement said.
Furthermore, it stated the Am. Samoa Department of Agriculture has the sole discretion to determine the issuance of an Import Permit for the raw or cooked meat subject to their own terms and conditions of independent inspection.
A maximum limit for the meat products is also imposed for personal consumption of up to 45 kilograms and 136 kilograms for meat intended for family funerals.
In 2016, discussions were held between the two Samoas about the export ban.
The ban was not imposed by Am. Samoa but by the United States Department of Agriculture because Samoa did not have an abattoir that had been certified by the department.