Archives for August 2014

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WCPFC Northern Committee Meeting

Date: August 31 – September 5, 2014     Location: Japan (tentative)

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Fifteen Species of Coral in the Indo-Pacific will be Listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act

On August 27, 2014, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced that 15 species of corals in the Indo-Pacific will be listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. NMFS will also list five species of corals in the Caribbean. None of the species will be listed as Endangered.

Of the 15 Indo-Pacific species that will be listed, 8 species are thought to occur in American Samoa, 4 in Guam and 2 species in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), according to NMFS’ final rule. None of the coral species that will be listed are known to occur in Hawaii.

For species listed as threatened, ESA Section 9 take prohibitions do not automatically apply. This means that take (defined under the ESA as “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct”) of the newly listed coral species will not be prohibited at this time. NMFS may consider at a later time whether regulations to prohibit take are needed for the conservation of the threatened coral species.

NMFS’ final decision is a substantial revision of a proposal issued in November 2012 that included a total of 66 species of corals in the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean. The new ESA listing will become effective 30 days after the final rule is published in the Federal Register.

For more information, see NMFS’ announcement here: http://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/stories/2014/08/corals_listing.html.

To read FR Notice, click here.

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Press Release – (VIDEO) Opposition Mounts to Obama’s Proposed Pacific Monument Expansion at Honolulu Town Hall Listening Session

HONOLULU (WPRFMC) — August 25, 2014 – The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPRFMC) has released a video compilation of concerns raised about anticipated negative consequences of the Obama Administration’s proposed expansion of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM). The Council’s video highlights a diverse group of scientists, fishermen, community members, and Council members who spoke out in opposition to the proposed Monument expansion at an August 11 Federal listening session in Honolulu.

According to those rising in opposition to the proposal, the Monument would cause substantial economic losses to local fisheries and would stifle the traditional Pacific Islands fishing culture that has sustained local communities for centuries.

Additional concerns were raised that the proposed Monument expansion would increase the domestic American seafood market’s reliance on imported seafood, often sourced from countries whose standards for fisheries management are less stringent than our own. Participants noted that, because U.S. Pacific fisheries are already some of the most highly regulated fisheries in the world, the Monument expansion would provide little in the way of additional benefits to already protected coral reefs and highly migratory pelagic fish species.

The “town hall” listening session to gather public comments was held at the Ala Moana Hotel in Honolulu and was hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Federal officials did not record the event. The video is a compilation of amateur footage taken by participants and attendees, and compiled by the WPRFMC.

Below is a list of speakers appearing in the video, listed in order of appearance:

  • Ed Watamura – Advisory Panel Chair, WPRFMC; President, Waialua Boat Club
  • Edwin Ebisui – Vice Chair, WPRFMC
  • Ricardo DeRosa – Purse Seine Fisherman, American Samoa
  • Pierre Kleiber – Retired, NMFS Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center
  • Makani Christensen – Commercial Fisherman
  • Neil Kanemoto – President, Pacific Island Fisheries Group
  • Bob Fram – President, Garden and Valley Isle Seafood
  • Roy Morioka – Hawai’i Fishermen’s Alliance for Conservation and Tradition
  • Tony Costa – Nearshore Fisherman
  • Brooks Takenaka – Assistant General Manager, The United Fish Agency (The Honolulu Fish Auction)
  • Frank Farm – President, Alii Holo Kai Dive Club
  • Steven Lee – Hawai’i Fishermen’s Alliance for Conservation and Tradition
  • Sean Martin – President, Hawai’i Longline Association
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Proposed rule; request for comments – International Fisheries; Western and Central Pacific Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species; Fishing Restrictions regarding the Oceanic Whitetip Shark, the Whale Shark, and the Silky Shark

To view the PDF, click here.

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Request to President Obama to Abandon Plans to Expand Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (August 15, 2014 )

Dear Mr. President,

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management  Council requests that the Administration abandon its plan to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monuments (PRIMNM) or, if expansion is inevitable,that commercial fishing be allowed to continue within the PRIMNM beyond the existing 50 nm boundary.

In addition to the traditional connections with the Pacific Islands it is important to consider that since WWII these islands, and the now independent Trust Territories, solidified US interests in Oceania. These interests were won at an extremely high cost in New Guinea (Milne Bay), Solomon Islands (Guadalcanal), Kiribati (Tarawa) and Palau. In peacetime, the US presence in the region has primarily been through its purse seine fishery via the South Pacific Tuna Treaty (SPTT).

Read More ª

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Press Release – Council Responds to Obama Administration’s Proposed Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument Expansion

HONOLULU (WPRFMC) – June 30, 2014 – The voting members of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPRFMC) from the State of Hawaii, Territories of American Samoa and Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands have analyzed the Obama Administration’s newly announced plan to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. They have determined that it would provide no added conservation benefit to marine resources, but will economically harm the area’s fishermen and those reliant on Pacific marine resources. Noting that the President himself has declared that the United States “has largely ended overfishing in federally managed waters,” the Council members are urging the Administration to continue allowing US fishermen into these areas. According to the WPRFMC, the Administration failed to consult the WPRFMC about the true economic and environmental impacts of its plan to expand the Monument. The WPRFMC also recommends modifications to the Antiquities Act to prevent similar such unilateral declarations in the future, which override existing fisheries management statutes, such as the Magnuson-Steven Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
Read More ª

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NMFS announces approval of a Marine Conservation Plan (MCP) for Guam.

To view FR notice, click here.

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Notice of availability of draft revised and updated National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) procedures for Magnuson-Stevens Act fishery management actions; request for comments.

To view the FR notice, click here.

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Request for Comments – Presidential Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud

To view the FR notice, click here.

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WCPFC Scientific Committee Meeting

Date: August 6-14, 2014     Location: Majuro, Marshall Islands