Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he is deeply saddened to receive word that Mr. David G. Burney, President and CEO of the South Pacific Tuna Corporation, passed away yesterday while with his family.
“Dave and I knew each other for some twenty years, and worked together almost since the time I came into Congress to build up American Samoa’s tuna fishing and processing industries,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “More than anyone, Dave was the most influential person in the history of the U.S. tuna business and he was known and loved by many people all around the world.”
“Having served as the Executive Director of the U.S. Tuna Foundation for some 25 years and acting as a key advisor to StarKist, Chicken of the Sea, and Bumble Bee, Dave was considered America’s leading tuna expert. In so many ways, Dave was also American Samoa’s unsung hero. Because of Dave, the South Pacific Tuna Treaty came into being and this Treaty is what keeps our U.S. tuna fishing fleet alive, and what ensures that American Samoa’s canneries have the tuna they need to remain viable and operative.”
“Because of Dave, our U.S. tuna fishing fleet, which had dwindled down over the years from 40 tuna boats to about 12 or 14 boats, is now being built back up to almost 30 boats. At the heart of Dave’s efforts to build up the U.S. tuna fishing fleet was his love for the people of American Samoa. This is why he recently retired from the U.S. Tuna Foundation and established the South Pacific Tuna Corporation to ensure that the U.S. tuna fishing fleet would be strong enough to continue to supply American Samoa’s canneries.”
“With Dave’s passing, the U.S. tuna industry and the people of American Samoa have suffered a tremendous loss, and I am not sure if any of us will recover anytime soon. Dave was the industry’s keystone. He was also my friend, and I will miss him.”
“On behalf of the people of American Samoa, I extend to Dave’s wife, Nancy, and their children, my deepest condolences. My thoughts and prayers are with them during this most difficult time but I take comfort in the knowledge that God, in His infinite mercy, has made it possible for all of us to one day meet again,” Faleomavaega concluded.