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Press Release – Scientists to Determine Acceptable Biological Catch for Hawai‘i Deepwater Bottomfish

HONOLULU (27 May 2015) The Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council will meet June 9 to 11, 2015, to consider and make recommendations on numerous issues regarding federally managed species in Hawai‘i, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and other US Pacific Islands. The SSC will convene at the Council office, 1164 Bishop St., Ste. 1400, Honolulu. The public is invited and will have opportunities to provide comments.

Setting the acceptable biological catch (ABC) for seven prized species of deep-water bottomfish in waters surrounding the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) for fishing years 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 is the key action item the scientists will address. The ABC is the baseline the Council uses to set the annual catch limit (ACL), after taking into account not only the biological concerns addressed by the ABC but also social, economic, ecological and management uncertainty issues. The Council will meet on June 16 to 18 at the Harbor View Center, 1129 North Nimitz Highway, Honolulu. Fishermen and other members of the public are invited to provide comments. For details contact the Council at (808) 522-8220 or info.wpcouncil@noaa.gov or go to www.wpcouncil.org/meetings.

The deepwater bottomfish being addressed include include onaga (Etelis coruscans), ehu (E. carbunculus), ‘opakapaka (Pristipomoides filamentosus), kalekale (P. sieboldii), lehi (Aphareus rutilans), gindai (P. zonatus) and hapuupuu (Epinephelus quernus). They are commonly referred to as the Deep 7. For fishing year 2014-2015, the ACL recommended by the Council was 346,000 pounds at a risk of overfishing level of 41 percent. The fishing year for MHI Deep 7 bottomfish runs from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31 the following year. The fishery is managed with consistent regulations for both federal waters (3 to 200 miles offshore) and state waters (0 to 3 miles offshore) and for both commercial and noncommercial bottomfish fisheries. If the ACL is reached by the commercial fishery, both it and the noncommercial fisheries close for the remainder of the fishing year. For updates on the accumulated catch to date and more on the Deep 7 bottomfish fishery, go to http://hawaiibottomfish.info/.

Scientific and Statistical Committee: Dr. Judith Amesbury (Micronesian Archeological Research Services); Dr. Paul Callaghan (University of Guam retired); Dr. Frank A. Camacho (University of Guam); Dr. Milani Chaloupka (University of Queensland); Dr. Charles Daxboeck, chair, (BioDax Consulting Tahiti); Dr. Richard Deriso (Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission); Dr. Erik Franklin (Hawai`i Institute of Marine Biology); Dr. John Hampton (Secretariat of the Pacific Community); David Itano (fisheries consultant); Dr. Pierre Kleiber (NMFS PIFSC, retired); Dr. Donald Kobayashi (NMFS PIFSC); Dr. Molly Lutcavage (University of Massachusetts); James Lynch (K&L Gates); Dr. Todd Miller (CNMI Division of Fish & Wildlife); Alton Miyaska (Hawai‘i Division of Aquatic Resources); Dr. Domingo Ochavillo (American Samoa DMWR); Dr. Minling Pan (NMFS PIFSC); Dr. Craig Severance (University of Hawai`i at Hilo, retired); Dr. John Sibert (Pelagic Fisheries Research Program, retired); and Dr. Robert Skillman (NMFS PIFSC, retired).