HONOLULU (24 March 2017) A bill introduced in the US Senate in mid-February to amend the
Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 would negatively impact Hawaii’s commercial fisheries. It is generally estimated that 20 percent of Hawaii billfish catch (about 550,000 pounds) is sold to US mainland seafood markets annually at a worth of approximately $600,000 in landed, wholesale revenue. The existing law allows billfish landed by US fishing vessels in Hawaii and the US Pacific territories of American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands to be sold in markets on the US mainland. The proposed amendment would prohibit it. The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, during its 169th meeting this week in Honolulu, voiced concerns about the proposed legislation and will provide information to the Secretary of Commerce on the stock status of Pacific billfish and the economic impact of the introduced amendment. The Council noted that US mainland sport fishing tournaments target billfish and requested information from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on the estimated number of billfish killed in these US mainland tournaments and whether or not the billfish retained goes to local consumption.
“Most of the billfish landed and sold in the Western Pacific Region is Pacific blue marlin, which is not subject to overfishing or in an overfished condition,” notes Kitty M. Simonds, the Council’s executive director. “The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the nation’s primary fisheries law, requires the Regional Fishery Management Councils and NMFS to prevent overfishing while achieving optimal yield for the benefit of the nation.”
Among other actions, the Council reaffirmed its support of community-based management in the Western Pacific Region and directed staff to support a meeting of the State of Hawaii with Hui Malama o Moomomi and the impacted fishing community, following the State’s public scoping meetings on the proposed Moomomi Subsistence Fishing Area Management Plan, to reach consensus on management measures that are acceptable by the whole community.
The Council also directed staff to work with the Council’s Fishing and Indigenous Community Advisory Sub-Panel to review available information in order to develop the legal, cultural and historical basis and justification for obtaining indigenous fishing rights in the Western Pacific Region.
For more information on the 169th Council meeting, go to www.wpcouncil.org/category/upcoming-council-and-advisory-body-meetings/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (808) 522-8220.
Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council: Secretary of Commerce appointees from nominees selected by American Samoa, CNMI, Guam and Hawai`i governors: Michael Duenas, Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Association (Guam) (vice chair); Edwin Ebisui Jr. (Hawaii) (chair); Michael Goto, United Fishing Agency (Hawaii); John Gourley, Micronesian Environmental Services (CNMI) (vice chair); Christinna Lutu-Sanchez, commercial fisherman (American Samoa); McGrew Rice, commercial and charter fisherman (Hawaii) (vice chair); Dean Sensui, film producer (Hawaii); Archie Soliai, StarKist (American Samoa) (vice chair). Designated state officials: Suzanne Case, Hawai`i Department of Land & Natural Resources; Henry Sesepasara, American Samoa Department of Marine & Wildlife Resources; Richard Seman, CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources; Matt Sablan, Guam Department of Agriculture. Designated federal official voting member: Michael Tosatto, NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office. Designated federal officials non-voting members: Matthew Brown, USFWS; Michael Brakke, US Department of State; and RADM Vincent B. Atkins, USCG 14th District.