Archives for March 2016

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Pacific Islands Regional Planning Body Meeting

Date: March 30-31, 2016
Location: Pago Pago, American Samoa

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Marine Planning & Climate Change Committee Meeting

Date: March 30 – 31, 2016
Location: Council Office, Honolulu, HI
Agenda
FR Notice

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Press Release – Fishery Management Council Addresses Fisheries of American Samoa, Hawaii, Guam (17 March 2016)

HONOLULU (17 March 2016) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, this week in Honolulu, recommended a suite of management decisions and recommendations for the near and offshore fisheries of American Samoa, Hawaii and Guam. They include the following, among others:
 
American Samoa
 
   
Kitty Simonds, Council executive director (center), presents Claire Poumele, Council member and American Samoa Port Administration director, with a check to support development of a longline vessel dock in Pago Pago Harbor. Also pictured are (l-r) Council Advisory Panel members Christinna Lutu-Sanchez and Krista Corry and Council Vice Chair William Sword
Kitty Simonds, Council executive director,
presented Claire Poumele, Council member from American Samoa and director of the American Samoa Port Administration, with a check for $94,000. This is the second check provided by the Council to American Samoa to support development of a longline vessel dock extension at the Malaloa Marina in Pago Pago Harbor. The Council requested that the American Samoa Government make known the planned funding source that will be utilized for the construction of the dock and provide a timeframe to complete the project.
 
 Also regarding the American Samoa longline fishery, the Council requested that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) provide pelagic catch rates and other fishery statistics for the American Samoa Large Vessel Prohibited Area waters that have recently been opened to federally permitted, American Samoa-based longline vessels longer than 50 feet in length. These waters are 12 to 50 nautical miles (nm) from shore around Swains, Tutuila and the Manua Islands. The waters 0 to 12 nm around these islands and 0 to 50 nm from shore around Rose Atoll remain closed to pelagic fishing vessels longer than 50 feet in length.
 
The American Samoa longline fishery provides albacore tuna (i.e., white tuna) to the canneries, which are major private-sector employees in the Territory. The canneries also receive skipjack tuna from US and foreign purse-seine vessels that offload in Pago Pago Harbor. On June 15, 2015, NMFS closed the US purse-seine fishery on the high seas and US exclusive economic zone in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) after its 1,828 vessel day limit was reached.  A subgroup of vessels petitioned NMFS for an exemption. NMFS said an economic analysis on the impact of US purse-seine effort limits on American Samoa was needed before a decision could be made. The Council reiterated its recommendation that NMFS expedite this analysis and make a determination, so that an appropriate management decision is made on the attribution of US purse-seine catch or effort. The Council will also investigate potential negative impacts of recently signed free trade agreements to the domestic tuna canning industry and subsequently the economy of American Samoa.
 
Hawaii
 
Concerned about the impacts of planned offshore wind farms on federally managed fisheries, the Council will ask to be included in the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management (BOEM) Hawaii Intergovernmental Task Force. Lease applications for three projects have been filed and are under review by BOEM. The Council will work with offshore wind energy developers through the BOEM leasing process to ensure access to fishing grounds is not restricted and fishing is allowed near these wind energy structures. The Council will provide comments on fishing impacts during the public environmental review process and hold community meetings on the future of fishing on fish aggregation devices (FADs), several of which are located in areas near the proposed wind farms.
 
Hawaii fishermen also face potential closure of fishing grounds in waters off Kaupulehu, on the Big Island. The proposal from Kona community members to the State of Hawaii includes bottomfish habitat 300 to 1,200 feet in depth that extends into the US exclusive economic zone. The Council took action calling for an assessment of the impacts of the proposed area closure on the bottomfish fishery and communicating the findings to the State. The Council will ask NMFS to prioritize Kaupulehu in its Kona Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) to determine non-fishing impacts in this area.  The Council will also ask NMFS to expand the IEA effort to South Oahu and Mamala Bay (Barbers Point to Diamond Head) as these waters and their hinterland are areas of intense use by Honolulu’s population.
Regarding Hawaii’s longline fishery for bigeye tuna, the Council asked NMFS to expedite the administrative rule making processes that allows the US Territories to allocate part of their bigeye tuna quota in the WCPO to the U.S. longline fleet based in Hawaii. In 2015, the Hawaii deep-set fishery experienced a two-month closure as it waited for completion of the paperwork. The US bigeye tuna quota could be reached as early as June this year. Local seafood consumers and retailers, as well as the fleet, would benefit from the transferred allocation as authorized under Amendment 7 of the Pacific Pelagic Fishery Ecosystem Plan. The Territories would also benefit with funds to support fisheries development.

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Press Release – NOAA Fisheries Deputy Assistant Administrator Lauds US Fishery Management Councils (14 March 2016)

HONOLULU (15 March 2016) Samuel D. Rauch III, NOAA Fisheries Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, praised the U.S. Regional Fishery Management Councils as the “key for the success” of both “environmental and economic progress” in the nation’s fisheries. “That’s a difficult thing to accomplish,” Rauch said, “but we have the statistics to prove it.”     Turtle_TrendFigure-1
Rauch made these remarks today during the start of the three-day meeting of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council at Fuller Hall, YWCA, 1040 Richards St., Honolulu. The Council’s fishery decision-making includes input from state, federal and interested stakeholders in an open, scientific process. There are ample opportunities for public comment as well as recommendations from various Council advisory groups.
Rauch noted that a recent peer-reviewed study showed that U.S. fisheries managed under the Council process scored extremely high when compared against the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) guidance on seafood sustainability certification (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa). Speaking about President Obama’s Task Force on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, Rauch said there are requirements to collect more information from U.S. fleets than foreign fleets, some of which import fish into the United States. He hoped that the outcomes of the Task Force would lead to better traceability of both foreign and domestic fisheries.
Kitty Simonds, executive director of the Western Pacific Council, noted that both the Hawaii and American Samoa longline fisheries, managed under the Council, rated more than 90 percent compliant with the UN FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
In a presentation on NOAA Fisheries’ standardized bycatch reporting methodology proposed rule, Rauch said, “We often heard that we don’t give credit to the Councils for all the bycatch work they have done.” Public comments on the proposed rule are being accepted until June 3. Email nmfs.bycatch@noaa.gov or go to www.fisheries.noaa.gov/sfa/bycatch.
Simonds said the Western Pacific Council completed its bycatch policy in 2003. She also said that protected species bycatch in the Western Pacific Region has been reduced by more than 90 percent for turtles and seabirds. As for non-regulatory bycatch, which fishermen are not required to release, only lancet fish is not being marketed for human consumption.
The Council reconvenes tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. For more on the meeting and a complete agenda, go to www.wpcouncil.org, email info@wpcouncil.org or phone (808) 522-8220. The Council was established by Congress under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act in 1976 to manage domestic fisheries operating seaward of State waters around Hawai’i, American Samoa, Guam, the CNMI and the US Pacific Island Remote Island Areas. Recommendations by the Council that are regulatory in nature are transmitted to the Secretary of Commerce for final approval.

Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council: Appointees by the Secretary of Commerce from nominees selected by American Samoa, CNMI, Guam and Hawai`i governors: Michael Duenas, Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Association (Guam) (vice chair); Edwin Ebisui (Hawai`i) (chair); Michael Goto, United Fishing Agency Ltd. (Hawai`i); John Gourley, Micronesian Environmental Services (CNMI) (vice chair); Julie Leialoha, biologist (Hawai`i); Dr. Claire Tuia Poumele, Port Administration (American Samoa); McGrew Rice, commercial and charter fisherman (Hawai`i) (vice chair); and William Sword, recreational fisherman (American Samoa) (vice chair). Designated state officials: Suzanne Case, Hawai`i Department of Land and Natural Resources; Dr. Ruth Matagi-Tofiga, American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources; Richard Seman, CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources; and Matt Sablan, Guam Department of Agriculture. Designated federal officials: Matthew Brown, USFWS Pacific Islands Refuges and Monuments Office; Michael Brakke, US Department of State; RADM Vincent B. Atkins, US Coast Guard 14th District; and Michael Tosatto, NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office.

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165th Council Meeting

Date: March 15 – 17, 2016      Time: 8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Location: Laniakea YWCA, Honolulu, HI
165th Council Meeting Agenda
165th Action Item Summary
FR Notice
122nd SSC Report
164th Council Meeting Minutes
165th Council Meeting Action Memorandum

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Fishers Forum on the Future of the Main Hawaiian Islands Bottomfish Fishery

Date: March 15, 2016     Time: 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Location: Hibiscus Ballroom, Ala Moana Hotel, 410 Atkinson Dr., Honolulu, HI, 96814
Agenda
DRAFT Fishers Forum Flyer
FR Notice
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Council Standing Committee Meetings

Pelagic and International Standing Committee Meeting
Date: March 14, 2016     9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Location:  Council Office, Honolulu, HI

Program Planning and Research Standing Committee Meeting
Date: March 14, 2016    1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Location: Council Office, Honolulu, HI

Executive and Budget Standing Committee Meeting
Date: March 14, 2016     3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Location: Council Office, Honolulu, HI

FR Notice

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Hawaii Archipelago Fishery Ecosystem Plan Advisory Panel Meeting

Date: March 10, 2016     Time: 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Location: Council Office, Honolulu, HI

 

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American Samoa Archipelago Fishery Ecosystem Plan Advisory Panel Meeting

Date: March 10, 2016     Time: 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Location: Department of Commerce Market Conference Room, Fagatogo Village, American Samoa

Agenda
FR Notice
Final Report

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122nd Science and Statistical Committee Meeting

Date: March 8 – 10, 2016
Location: Council Office, Honolulu, HI
122nd SSC Agenda
FR Notice
122nd SSC Final Report