Archives for September 2014

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Press Release – Western Pacific Fishery Management Council Responds to the President’s Pacific Monument Expansion Decision

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPRFMC) acknowledges that the President’s amended Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM) expansion plan reduces the economic toll the original plan would have taken on sustainable US Pacific Island fisheries. The announcement of the final plan comes after months of the WPRFMC expressing serious concern for a sudden, unilateral proposal from the White House to expand the monument.  

The WPRFMC has been informed by the White House by phone today that the monument will now extend to 200 miles around Johnston Atoll, Jarvis Island and Wake Island, but the existing 50-mile PRIMNM boundary will remain around Howland and Baker Islands and Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef.

HONOLULU (WPRFMC) – September 24, 2014 – A plan announced in June to vastly expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM) – and in turn prohibit commercial fishing therein – has been amended to better accommodate economically vital fishing industries for Hawaii and the U.S. Pacific Islands. Following a West Wing meeting joining representatives of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPRFMC) and the Hawaii longline fishing industry with Counselor to the President John Podesta and White House Council on Environmental Quality Acting Chair Mike Boots, and in the wake of public criticism and media attention, the White House announced today a revised plan for the President’s expansion of the PRIMNM.
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Press Release – Workshop Addresses Issue of Disproportionate Burden in Pacific Island Fisheries

HONOLULU (WPRFMC) – 23 September 2014 – The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council sponsored a first of its kind workshop on Sept. 18–20, 2014, at the Council office in Honolulu to discuss the concept of “disproportionate burden.” The subject of disproportionate burden is particularly relevant at this time because the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) is considering international bigeye tuna management measures that may result in burdens to small Pacific islands. The WCPFC is an international body that manages tuna fisheries in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.

Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, various international agreements have been created for the purpose of conserving and managing migratory fish stocks that move across international boundaries. Many of these agreements require participants to ensure that conservation actions do not transfer a disproportionate burden onto small island developing states (SIDS), including the territories and possessions of various nations. The WCPFC contains both SIDS such as Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Kiribati and the US territories of Guam, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands as well as metropolitan countries such as the United States, Japan, China and the European Union.

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Disproportionate Burden Workshop

Date: September 18-20, 2014     Location: Council Office

Click here for workshop report

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Press Release – Education Memorandum of Understanding Signed to Build Territory, Commonwealth Fishery Management Capacity

HONOLULU (WPRFMC) – 12 September 2014 – A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aimed at building the capacity of the US Pacific Island territories to manage their fisheries and fishery-related resources has been signed by more than a dozen higher education institutions and federal and local fishery management agencies and organizations in American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and Hawaii.

Signatories include the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, University of Hawaii (UH) at Hilo, UH Manoa’s Hawai`i Institute of Marine Biology, Hawaii Pacific University, American Samoa Community College, University of Guam, Northern Marianas College, American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources, Guam Department of Agriculture, CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Pacific Islands Regional Office, NMFS Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center and US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.

The partners will work together to achieve four goals with implementation to begin  with the 2015 academic year.

Identify and recruit students from the Territories/Commonwealth who are interested in a career in fishery science and/or management. These students must also commit to being employed at a fishery-related local agency in the Territories/Commonwealth. Employees in the local fishery agencies who need or desire to enhance their education and training in fishery science/management will also be identified and recruited.

Assist the identified students/employees to be successful in undergraduate and/or graduate educational endeavors. This assistance includes a) supporting and improving course articulation of fishery-related academic programs and courses among the above education institutions; b) helping to address tuition and other education-related financial needs through existing financial assistance and established federal education programs and by exploring the development of a fellowship/scholarship program that requires a commitment from the student recipient to work in a fisheries-related agency in the Territories or Commonwealth; and c) ensuring effective, ongoing advising and mentoring from both the college/university and the home Territory/Commonwealth.

Support and encourage the development of curricula, permanent courses, programs and faculty positions for fisheries at the undergraduate and/or graduate level; online fishery trainings; and internships.

Assist, support and encourage local fishery-related agencies to employ these students in the Territories/Commonwealth.

The MOU was drafted by the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council’s Education Committee, as directed by the Council at its 159th meeting in March 2014. The Education Steering Committee will meet in October to work on an implementation plan.

To read the complete signed education MOU, click here.

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Applications for the Council’s Advisory Panel STILL Available

Applications for the Council’s Advisory Panel STILL Available

Fishermen, members of fishery-related industries and individuals from fishery- or marine related organizations are invited to apply for membership to the Advisory Panel (AP) for the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council.

The AP includes three panels that focus on the American Samoa Archipelago Fishery Ecosystem Plan (FEP), Hawaii Archipelago and PRIA FEP, and Marianas Archipelago FEP.  Each of these panels will also deal with the Pelagics FEP as well.

Each of the FEP subpanels includes representatives from commercial fisheries, recreational fisheries, subsistence and indigenous fisheries, and ecosystems and habitat.

The AP includes representatives from American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Guam and Hawaii who meet the following selection criteria:

  • Present or recent activity in recreational, commercial or subsistence fishing;
  • Present or recent involvement in the buying, processing or marketing sectors of the fishing industry and/or involvement in conservation or management organizations, fishing clubs or other organized groups concerned with marine or fisheries issues;
  • Willingness to play an active role in fisheries management; and
  • Ability to dedicate time for fishery document review and participate in panel meetings.

AP members provide advice to the Council on all aspects of the region’s fisheries and suggest management strategies.

The AP terms are for four years and will commence Jan. 1, 2015.  Positions are voluntary (not paid).  However, members are reimbursed for expenses related to their participation in meetings.

This year, applications are being accepted electronically and can be found at https://wpcouncil.wufoo.com/forms/20152018-advisory-panel-application/.  For those who may need other arrangements, please call the Council Office at (808) 522-8220 for assistance.  Completed applications must be received by the Council before September 22, 2014.  UPDATE:  COUNCIL STILL TAKING APPLICATIONS

For more information, contact Joshua DeMello at the Council at Joshua.DeMello@noaa.gov or (808) 522-7493.

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Marine Planning and Climate Change Committee Meeting

Date: September 15, 2014  1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Location: Council office, Honolulu

Agenda

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Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) sub- Working Group Meeting

Date:  September 17, 2014 (W), 1 p.m.
Location: Council office, Honolulu, HI

Agenda
To view FR notice, click here.

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Press Release – At White House, Pacific Island Delegation Warns that the President’s Proposed Marine Monument Expansion Will Fail American Fishermen

At an hour-long West Wing meeting yesterday, fisheries managers and commercial fishing industry representatives from the U.S. Pacific Islands spoke with Counselor to the President John Podesta and senior officials from the White House Council on Environmental Quality to express concerns regarding the President’s proposed expansion of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, which they contend will harm U.S. fishermen in the region without benefitting the surrounding environment.

 HONOLULU (WPRFMC) – September 10, 2014 – A delegation from the U.S. Pacific islands, including fisheries managers and commercial fishing industry representatives, met yesterday with the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), including Counselor to the President John Podesta. The group conveyed its concerns for an Executive proposal that would bar fishermen from nearly 700,000 miles of vitally historic fishing grounds.

The delegation from the Pacific Islands included leaders from Hawai’i, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPRFMC). They expressed their opposition to President Obama’s proposal to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM). Arnold Palacios, CNMI Secretary of the Department of Lands and Natural Resources and WPRFMC chair, described the meeting as “a frank discussion,” at which the delegation from the Western Pacific shared “concerns that the current proposal is destined to fail our fishermen and environment.” According to the WPRFMC and others at the meeting, the proposed Monument expansion would unfairly penalize the U.S. Pacific Islands and American fishermen and fail at its conservation objectives.

The meeting was an important opportunity for Executive officials to hear firsthand about these issues. In addition to Mr. Podesta, Acting Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality Michael Boots, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Daniel Ashe, and Senior Advisor to the Undersecretary of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Dr. Christine Blackburn were in attendance, among other senior officials.

According to the WPRFMC, the Administration overlooked key local stakeholders and regional fishery managers in the original planning of the proposal, which in turn produced a plan that neglects the needs and concerns of the region and its vitally important fishing industry.

Sean Martin, of the Hawai’i Longline Association, remarked that “this attempt at crafting an environmental legacy for our nation will ultimately prove to accomplish the opposite by disenfranchising our own fishermen and outsourcing domestic seafood demand to nations whose standards for environmental protections pale in comparison to our own.”

Opposition to the proposed Monument expansion centers around arguments that it disregards already effective marine protections, unfairly harms hard working American fishermen, and outsources domestic seafood demand to nations with poor records of environmental stewardship. Kitty Simonds, Executive Director of the WPRFMC, explained, “Our current management systems are a global guide and a living legacy for responsible resource management. Our regulations are the strictest in the world.”

Added to that, say representatives from the WPRFMC, is the unfortunate reality that the size of an expanded Monument would be too large to enforce, likely leading to exploitation of the Monument by foreign competitors for illegal fishing. Currently, 91 percent of seafood consumed in the United States is imported, with up to one-third potentially sourced from illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.

The delegates from the U.S. Pacific Islands also say that the marine species for which protections are sought are highly migratory and will not gain protections from an expanded PRIMNM. For our fishermen, they argue, the expansion will mean substantial cost increases, both in terms of fuel to travel further out to sea and for entry to other nations’ fishing grounds, for which our fishermen are required to pay large fees. They noted that fishing access to the high seas is also restricted by international fishery management organizations, to which the United States is a party. Representatives from the WPRFMC further explained that U.S. Pacific Island fishermen are also being squeezed out of U.S. waters by other existing marine national monuments, national marine sanctuaries, large fishing vessel exclusion zones and no-access military areas.

Claire Poumele, Director of the American Samoa Port Authority and a WPRFMC member, said the Monument expansion would have catastrophic consequences to the territory’s tuna canning operations, which employs one-third of the population.

But at the meeting, government officials reaffirmed their support for the Monument’s expansion, however, they did not explain their rationale or expound upon any supporting facts. Mr. Podesta expressed his opinion that large marine protected areas are valuable to the nation’s conservation objectives.

The WPRFMC is a regional fishery management council established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act in 1976. The Council has successfully implemented innovations in fisheries management and conservation for 35 years, including ecosystem-based fishery management plans and vessel monitoring systems. WPRFMC emphasizes public participation and the involvement of local communities in science-based fisheries management.

Contact: Sylvia Spalding
Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council
+1 (808) 383-1069
Sylvia.Spalding@noaa.gov

Attachments:

WPRFMC Presentation to White House/CEQ

Whitehouse/CEQ PRIMNM Meeting Media Package

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2014 Commercial Fishing for Pacific Bluefin Tuna Closed in the Eastern Pacific Ocean

To read FR Notice, click here.