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Interview with Frank Barron of Purse Seine Samoa

When the MARCO calendar was first published 8 years ago we had no idea that it would become a must for many vessels and shipyards in the industry. The initiative originated from the boom in tuna boats construction in the years following 2010, as an attempt to record that historical period in shipbuilding for posterity. 

That first calendar proved so popular that we decided to produce one every year to showcase the past and present of purse seine fishing. We could not have done this without the help of a great many people in the sector, to whom we are truly grateful.

Frank Barron of Purse Seine Samoa is one of those people: he distributes the calendar among purse seiners that make port in Samoa. The masters of vessels including the Pacific Princess, the Sea Encounter, the Jeanine and the CVG have received calendars from him this year. We contacted him to thank him for his help and chat with him for a while.

Q.- First of all, Frank, we'd like to thank you for your help in passing the MARCO calendar on to vessels that stop over at the port of Pago Pago, especially in the last two years. We realise that, as in the rest of the world, things here can't have been easy with the pandemic. Now that the situation is gradually returning to normal, how do you see the prospects of the tuna industry in Samoa for 2022?

A.- The truth is that the government of American Samoa has done a great job keeping things moving at the port and the cannery in the past two years. But now we need to get back to our pre-pandemic routines, and that means increasing the number of regular flights to Samoa. That will enable us to bring in the technical staff required to carry out repairs and make crew changeovers. Once we have achieved that, I think 2022 will end up being a good year for the sector.

Q.- Tell us a little about Purse Seine Samoa and your links with MARCO.

A.- Purse Seine Samoa has been in business for 30 years, distributing a number of well-known products to the region's purse seine fleet. We are known as distributors of Crosby products, Stewart Hi Test Dycam steel wire ropes and H-EX nets. We run the only purse seine net repair facility in Samoa.

MARCO like Purse Seine Samoa are well known leaders in the industry and our products are used together. Our steel wire ropes have been used on various MARCO winches for many years and their power blocks are used to haul in our nets, so there have been close links between the two companies for over 30 years.

Q.- From the pictures posted on your networks, this year's calendar seems to have been very popular. It's curious to see ships' masters realising that their vessels are featured in the calendar. How have crews reacted to being given this year's MARCO calendar?

A.- MARCO technology is renowned in the US fleet, so the company's calendar is a welcome gift. It's always fun to see what vessels are shown on it year by year.

Q.- You must have anecdotes about handing out the calendars. Do any from this year spring to mind?

A.- Yes, a lot of anecdotes arise as people leaf through the calendar. For instance this year the port engineer from the Pacific Princess was surprised to see the cover picture: he told us that he was there when that photo of the Jeanine was taken. It brought back good memories for him.

Q.- Precisely, as we have seen from a recent photo of yours, the Jeanine recently made port in Pago Pago, didn't she? Can you tell us a bit about her?

A.- The Jeanine is a great ship. She belongs to a historic family of US tuna vessels which are still in great shape despite being 50 years old. If there's one thing for which these vessels stand out, it's that they're all equipped with MARCO winches and power blocks.

Q.- To end this interview, we'd like to know whether you have any suggestions for next year's calendar.

A.- Well, there are very few US-flagged tuna vessels left, and it would be nice to see one or two of them featured in next year's edition.

We'll take note of that Frank. Thanks for talking to us, and we hope the port of Samoa soon gets back to normal.

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