Talks on territory's meat ban delayed by virus

The coronavirus outbreak has delayed a trip by Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (M.A.F.) officials to American Samoa to discuss the territory's decision to maintain a ban on the importing of Samoan meat. 

This was highlighted by the M.A.F. Minister Lopaoo Natanielu Mua in a press conference with the media.

“They [representatives from American Samoa] came and we had a meeting in October last year,” he said. "We have decided to plan a trip to American Samoa so we can further discuss details, in terms of the territory continuing to impose the ban of meat products from our country. But because of the coronavirus it has led to the delay in us leaving for this matter.”

Minister Lopaoo later added that his Ministry was shocked to discover that the meat ban continued despite their discussions in October last year. 

A public notice was issued by the M.A.F. earlier this year stating that Samoa had been given the green light to continue exports after the ban was lifted.

However, American Samoa Governor's Chief of Staff, Fiu Johnny Saelua, said the ban on importing meat from Samoa remains in place.  

In a previous interview, the M.A.F. Minister insisted that American Samoa representatives gave the green light to Samoa to export meat again.

“It was the Director [former Director of American Samoa's Department of Agriculture, Filifaatali Mike Fuiava] 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.”

According to a notice issued by the M.A.F., locally produced raw and cooked meat as well as meat products from Samoa were now allowed into American Samoa for personal consumption and funerals. 

“A person who intends to take any locally produced raw or cooked meat to American 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.

In 2016, discussions were held between the two Samoas on the export ban. 

The ban was not imposed by American Samoa territory government but by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as Samoa did not have an abattoir that could be certified by the Department.

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