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35 Years of Accomplishments

Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPRFMC) Milestones

1976 Congress approves Fishery Conservation & Management Act, which establishes eight Regional Fishery Management Councils

1976 Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) lobster fishery begins

1983 WPRFMC establishes Precious Corals Fishery Management Plan (FMP)

  • Ban on bottom trawling and other potentially destructive and non-selective gear throughout the Region’s entire 1.5 million square nautical miles of exclusive economic zone (EEZ) waters
  • Minimum sizes and quotas
  • No-take marine protected areas (MPAs) in NWHI (WesPac Refugia) and around the Pacific remote islands areas (PRIAs)

 

1983 WPRFMC establishes Crustaceans FMP

  • Marine conservation zone in NWHI
  • Limited entry
  • Gear restrictions to protect monk seals and to release bycatch and undersized catch
  • Vessel size limit
  • Risk-based bank-specific quotas (catch equivalent of 13% of the exploitable biomass with 10% risk of overfishing)
  • Real-time reporting, vessel monitoring system, observers

 

1984 WPRFMC co-hosts the first of three international marine debris conferences

  • Second conference in 2000 co-hosted by WPRFMC
  • Third conference in 2003 co-hosted by WPRFMC
  • 2006 instrumental in establishing the Honolulu Derelict Net Recycling Program

 

1986 WPRFMC establishes Bottomfish & Seamount Groundfish FMP

  • Bottom trawling and other potentially destructive gear banned throughout the Region’s entire 1.5 million square nautical miles of EEZ waters
  • Fishing by large commercial vessels restricted around Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and NWHI
  • Seamount groundfish moratorium at Hancock Seamount in NWHI
  • NWHI limited entry and observers
  • Quotas for NWHI and main Hawaiian Islands (MHI)
  • Commercial and non-commercial permit and reporting for MHI
  • Vessel monitoring system (VMS) requirements for >40-foot vessels in CNMI

 

1987 WPRFMC establishes Pelagics FMP

  • Drift gillnetting banned throughout the Region’s entire 1.5 million square nautical miles of EEZ waters prior to Congress passing the Driftnet Impact Monitoring Assessment & Control Act
  • Limited entry programs for Hawaii and American Samoa
  • Spatial management near coastal areas—e.g., Protected Species Zone around the NWHI—to minimize impacts on protected species and user conflicts throughout Region
  • Automated satellite VMS developed by WPRFMC, which implements its first application worldwide for fishing vessels
  • Hawaii longline fishery deemed first environmentally responsible longline fishery in the world, using effective sea turtle (circle hooks and mackerel bait) and seabird mitigation (side- and night-setting) methods
  • Hawaii longline fishery determined to be 94% compliant when evaluated by the UN FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries
  • Longline observer coverage (100% Hawaii swordfish trips, 20% Hawaii tuna trips, 8-10% American Samoa trips)
  • Mandatory closure after 17 loggerhead or 16 leatherback sea turtle interactions for Hawaii longline swordfish fishery
  • First workshop on South Pacific albacore longline fisheries convened by WPRFMC

 

1990 Congress includes tunas in Magnuson Act

 

1996 WPRFMC instrumental in achieving amendments to the Magnuson Act

WPRFMC instrumental in achieving amendments to the Magnuson Act to recognize indigenous fishing rights for native peoples and the unique historical, cultural, legal, political, and geographical circumstances of the Pacific Insular Areas and the critical importance of fisheries resources for their economic growth.

  • Community Development Program
  • Community Demonstration Project Program
  • Marine Education and Training Program

 

1997 WPRFMC initiates program to reduce albatross interactions with longline fisheries

  • Project on Hawaii longline vessels to test mitigation techniques
  • First international black-footed albatross population dynamics workshop convened by WPRFMC
  • WPRFMC strategic goal of reducing seabird bycatch by over 90 percent achieved

 

1999 WPRFMC convenes Recreational Fishing Data Task Force to work with State of Hawaii to re-implement the NMFS Recreational Fisheries data survey, which is accomplished in 2002

 

1999 WPRFMC hosts the Fourth Session of the Multilateral High-Level Conference for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Central and Western Pacific Ocean in February

  • Fifth Session in September 1999 hosted by WPRFMC
  • Sixth Session in April 2000 hosted by WPRFMC
  • Seventh and Final Session in August-September 2000 hosted by WPRFMC, at which time the convention became open for signature
  • Convention enters into force in June 2004, establishing the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission

 

2000 Council adopts international turtle research and mitigation resolution

  • Instrumental in evolution of Hawaii as a center of excellence for developing bycatch solutions for longline and static net fisheries
  • Nesting beach and foraging ground conservation projects in Melanesia, Indonesia, Japan and Mexico for loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles
  • Instrumental in circle hook exchange program in South American artisanal longline fisheries
  • International Fishers Forums convened by WPRFMC in Hawaii, Japan and Costa Rica to transfer best practices to reduce bycatch and tackle other issues
  • Turtle tagging database for Pacific Islands and Southeast Asia developed and maintained through WPRFMC partnership with the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme
  • Strategic goal of reducing sea turtle bycatch by longline vessels by 90 percent achieved by WPRFMC

 

2001 FMP for Coral Reef Ecosystem

  • First ecosystem plan for fisheries in the US
  • Destructive and non-selective gears prohibited
  • No-take and low-take MPAs established
  • NWHI, Marianas, American Samoa and the PRIA marine resources protected, ensuring near pristine predator-dominated ecosystems prior to establishment of marine monuments

2005 WPRFMC hosts Fisheries Legislation and Community-Based Fisheries Management Workshop, with support from FAO and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community

2006 Congress Reauthorizes Magnuson Act, which includes implementing legislation for WCPFC

  • Key role of WPRFMC in international fisheries management recognized

 

2007  WPRFMC approves Fishery Ecosystem Plans (FEPs) shifting management focus from a species-based to a place-based conservation ethic

  • Regional Ecosystem Advisory Committees formed on each archipelago to increase participation by communities and agencies not typically involved in fisheries management (e.g., county governments, non-government organizations, businesses, universities and colleges, and the Offices of Samoan, Hawaiian, Chamorro and Carolinian Affairs)
  • Traditional cultural practitioners from throughout Hawaii convened by WPRFMC to discuss establishment of cultural community consultation process with educators and policymakers

WPRFMC convenes International Pacific Marine Educators conference, which launches the International Pacific Marine Educators Network (IPMEN)

  • IPMEN holds successful 2008 conference in Townsville, Australia, and 2010 conference in Fiji

Council implements quota based management program for Main Hawaiian Island “Deep-7” bottomfish fishery requiring complementary and coordinated Federal and State regulatory changes.

 

2010 Council establishes annual catch limits (ACLs) for 100 management unit species/species groups/stock complexes

 

2011 Council implements a risk-based ACL for the main Hawaiian Islands deepwater bottomfish fishery that includes considerations for management uncertainty and socioeconomic considerations resulting in annual catch target that is less than the ACL